Larsen C ice shelf rift development to January 2017. A huge iceberg, a quarter the size of Wales, is poised to break off from the Larsen C ice shelf. Graphic: Adrian Luckman

By Matt McGrath
5 January 2017

(BBC News) – An iceberg expected to be one of the 10 largest ever recorded is ready to break away from Antarctica, scientists say.

A long-running rift in the Larson C ice shelf grew suddenly in December and now just 20km of ice is keeping the 5,000 sq km piece from floating away.

Larsen C is the most northern major ice shelf in Antarctica.

Researchers based in Swansea say the loss of a piece a quarter of the size of Wales will leave the whole shelf vulnerable to future break-up. […]

"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. […]

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.

According to estimates, if all the ice that the Larsen C shelf currently holds back entered the sea, global waters would rise by 10cm. [more]

Huge Antarctic iceberg poised to break away

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