Antarctic ice block of 18-kilometers set to break off: scientists

This sounds like a plot of an English movie..a massive ice block, nearly 100 times the area of Manhattan is going to break off. The chunk is 350 metres thick and finger-shaped.

Scientists reported the break of Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf. The rift grew by 18 kilometres (11 miles) by the end of December.

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The rift has widened, from less than 50 metres (160 feet) in 2011 to nearly 500 metres today. The fragile West Antarctic ice sheet — where Larsen C is located — holds enough frozen water to raise global oceans by at least four metres (13 feet). The real danger is from inland glaciers, held in place by the floating, cliff-like ice shelves.

The nearby Larsen A ice shelf collapsed in 1995, and Larsen B dramatically broke up seven years later.

The ice block currently separating from Larsen C contains about 10 percent of its mass, and would be among the 10 largest break-offs ever recorded, Luckman said. If all the ice held back by Larsen C entered the sea, it would lift global oceans by about 10 centimetres (four inches).

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