Sunday 19 November 2017

One of the world’s largest ever icebergs set to break away from Antarctica – experts

Undated handout photo issued by the WWF of Adelie penguins diving off an iceberg in Antarctica, as Adelie penguins target jellyfish with prominent gonads for a tasty meal, research from Antarctic
Undated handout photo issued by the WWF of Adelie penguins diving off an iceberg in Antarctica, as Adelie penguins target jellyfish with prominent gonads for a tasty meal, research from Antarctic "penguin cams" suggests. Tim Laman/naturepl.com/WWF/PA Wire
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

Scientists have warned that an iceberg expected to be one of the 10 largest ever recorded is ready to break away from Antarctica.

A long-running rift in one of the biggest ice shelf’s in Antarctica grew suddenly in December and now just 20km of ice is keeping the iceberg from floating away.

Researchers in Swansea say the loss of a piece of ice a 'quarter of the size of Wales’ will leave the whole shelf vulnerable to future break-up.

The ice shelf, named Larsen C, has seen the rift go into overdrive in the last couple of weeks.

"If it doesn't go in the next few months, I'll be amazed," project leader Prof Adrian Luckman, from Swansea University, told BBC News.

It is believed that climate warming has brought forward the likely separation of the iceberg but the scientists say they have no direct evidence to support this.

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

But if the shelf breaks up even more, it could result in glaciers that flow off the land behind it to speed up their passage towards the ocean.

This non-floating ice would have an impact on sea levels.

It is estimated that if all the ice that the Larsen C shelf is currently holding back entered the sea, global waters would rise by 10cm.

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