Iceberg the size of DE is about to break off from Antarctica

Rift in the Larsen C Ice Shelf as seen from a NASA aircraft on Nov. 10 2016

Rift in the Larsen C Ice Shelf as seen from a NASA aircraft on Nov. 10 2016

Scientists from Project MIDAS - a British Antarctic Survey project involving researchers from several British universities - said past year that they feared the entire ice shelf could become unstable.

Prof Luckman says the area that will break off will be about 5,000 sq km, a size he says that would put the iceberg among the top 10 biggest that have been recorded.

The Project MIDAS team and other Antarctic researchers have been watching the rift in Larsen C grow for several years and spotted another surge earlier this year.

In 2002 the collapse of the Larsen B ice shelf saw an area of 1,235 square miles of ice break apart forming thousands of icebergs in just over a month. The iceberg won't immediately take the rest of the ice shelf with it, but it will likely weaken the structure of Larsen C enough to make its days officially numbered.

"If it doesn't go in the next few months, I'll be amazed", Adrian Luckman, the lead researcher behind Project MIDAS, which monitors the ice shelf, told BBC News.

The entire Larsen C ice shelf - one about twice the size of Hawaii - is not due to collapse, but this crack will cleave off about 10 percent of it.

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"This event will fundamentally change the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula", the scientists at Project MIDAS, an Antarctic research effort that has been watching the rift closely, wrote in update.

Scientists have been keeping a close eye on a crack in an Antarctica ice shelf that could break off, creating an iceberg and indirectly lead to rising sea levels. There's now only about a dozen miles of unbroken ice left. When it splits from the ice shelf, the Larsen C Ice Shelf will lose more than 10% of its land mass.

Experts think it won't be long before it breaks off.

"The eventual consequences might be the ice shelf collapsing in years to come". They float frozen atop the water, absorbing ice as it moves down toward the coast. It ultimately run aground on the remote island of South Georgia, where the discoverer of the ice shelf, Norwegian explorer Carl Anton Larsen, happened to spend most of his days.

Part of the Larsen C ice shelf is now hanging by only a relative thread after a crack expanded quckly last month. It's that ice that would raise sea levels, NASA scientist Thomas P. Wagner said.

While calving is a natural process, it can be driven into overdrive by the warm ocean waters that are lapping away at the ice shelves that fringe Antarctica.