Huge Antarctic iceberg poised to break away

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Huge Antarctic iceberg poised to break away

Nearly the entire Larsen B Ice Shelf splintered and collapsed in just over one month during the Southern Hemisphere summer of 2002.

When it breaks away the ice shelf will lose more than 10% of its area to leave the ice front at its "most retreated position ever recorded".

A slow-progressing rift suddenly grew by 18 kilometres (11 miles) at the end of December, leaving the finger-shaped chunk - 350 metres thick - connected along only a small fraction of its length.

However, while he said there was no evidence to "directly" link the Larsen C fissure with climate change, he conceded that "up until the late 1990s the Antarctic Peninsula was one of the fastest warming places on earth". Project Midas project leader Adrian Luckman told the BBC, "If it doesn't go in the next few months, I'll be amazed...it's so close to calving that I think it's inevitable".

Scientists believe the 3,000 square mile area, the size of Wales, may lead to a four-inch rise in sea levels. The event could trigger the eventual collapse of the entire Larsen C, which spans some 21,000 square miles, Luckman continued, although he noted such models are hard to predict.

O'Leary added: "We definitely have seen, though, that Larsen C is experiencing changes from the changing and warming climate".

Instruments above and below Antarctica's ice shelves allow scientists to monitor the conditions surrounding Larsen C.

Huge Antarctic iceberg poised to break away

A giant iceberg the size of DE is expected to break away from the Antarctic peninsula, so big it's likely to be one of the biggest iceberg calving events ever recorded, scientists said Friday.

"We are convinced - although others are not - that the remaining ice shelf will be less stable than the present one", Luckman said in a statement.

As it floats on the sea, the resulting iceberg from the shelf will not raise sea levels.

Ice shelves are the floating parts of glaciers in Antartica.

NASA reports that even if the shelf were to break away and melt, it wouldn't contribute directly to sea level rise because the shelf is already floating.

All that is very much in the future.

The European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service said on Thursday that past year was the warmest on record by a wide margin, stoked by greenhouse gases and an El Nino weather event that released heat from the Pacific Ocean.

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