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.

An iceberg roughly a quarter of the size of Wales is about to break off from Antarctica.

But glaciologist Professor Adrian Luckman said it would be wrong to finger climate change as the reason. A long-running rift in the Larsen C ice shelf grew suddenly in December a year ago.

"These results serve as a robust, independent validation of the NOAA temperature record and show us that the new NOA temperature record is probably the best estimate of global ocean temperatures for the last 15 years", said Zeke Hausfather, a UC Berkeley graduate and lead author of the paper. After a few months of steady, incremental advance since the last event, the rift grew suddenly by a further 18 km during the second half of December 2016.

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. It has been discovered to have grown by nearly 11 miles - now nearly the size of DE - and a dramatic break could occur around winter. MIDAS researchers predict the "inevitable" break-off will destabilize the Larsen C shelf, putting it at risk of disintegrating altogether like its neighbour, Larsen B, did in 2002. "It's just a big geographical event that will change the landscape there".

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The Larsen C Ice Shelf is the most northerly of the remaining major Antarctic Peninsula ice shelves. The break off of the large piece of ice leaves the whole shelf at risk to future break-ups, researchers say. Although it is believed that climate warming has brought forward the likely separation of the iceberg, the researchers say they have no direct evidence to support this. This appears tied to the warming of the Antarctic Peninsula in recent decades.

Larsen A, the most northern of the three segments, and the smallest, broke free from the mainland in 1995.

According to NASA, ice shelves are the floating parts of ice streams and glaciers and they buttress the grounded ice behind them.

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.

When it does so, the ice shelf will be in its most retreated position on record, which modeling done by the MIDAS team suggests will be more unstable than its current configuration.


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