Progression of the Larsen C IceShelf rift, from November 2010 to January 2017. Graphic: USA TODAY / ProjectMidas.org

By Doyle Rice
2 February 2017

(USA TODAY) – It's the crack that's captivating the world. A 110-mile-long rift in an Antarctic ice shelf promises to eventually shear off and create a massive iceberg larger than Rhode Island.

For now, it's fascinating scientists, gamblers and the public worldwide. Everyone wants to know when part of the Larsen C ice shelf will finally break off, fundamentally changing the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula.

The short answer: It could take days to years. But the iceberg is most likely to break free within the next few months because of the overwhelming weight the 110 miles of already separated ice is placing on the 12 miles that remains connected to the shelf, said Adrian Luckman of Project MIDAS, a British Antarctic research project that's keeping watch on the ever-growing crack. […]

The crack in the Larsen C ice shelf is now about 1,500 feet wide, and has lengthened substantially in the past few months, growing by about 20 miles since December. That's a rapid pace considering that overall, the crack has grown by 50 miles since 2011, according to the British Antarctic Survey. Once the crack goes all the way across, the iceberg will shear off.

Irish bookmakers, ever in search of something to bet on, offered odds last month on when the iceberg will finally break off. PaddyPower offered 7-to-2 odds it will break free in February or March, which is summer in Antarctica. By October, the odds slide to 25-1. […]

And as for the Antarctic crack, "we are watching with bated breath," he added.[more]

'Watching with bated breath': Massive iceberg set to break off Antarctic ice shelf

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