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This Nov. 10, 2016 aerial photo released by NASA, shows a rift in the Antarctic Peninsula's Larsen C ice shelf. According to NASA, IceBridge scientists measured the Larsen C fracture to be about 70 miles long, more than 300 feet wide and about a third of a mile deep. (John Sonntag/NASA via AP)

That massive iceberg breaking off from Antarctica could collapse an entire ice shelf


A crack in Antarctica is almost certain to break off and form an iceberg the size of Delaware.

Scientists say that a 1,900 square-mile section of the 'Larsen C' ice shelf is now only connected to the main body by a 12-mile section of ice. What started as a small crack has expanded 70 miles. It continued to grow rapidly during the second half of 2016 and well into December, according to Project Midas, the research team that monitors the ice shelf.

If the iceberg does break away, it would be one of the ten largest in recorded history. 

"Scary!" is right. Researchers say the loss could cause the entire shelf to break.

The clock is ticking.

"If it doesn't go in the next few months, I'll be amazed," project leader Professor Adrian Luckman, from Swansea University, told BBC News.

It is believed that climate warming has brought forward the likely separation of the iceberg but the scientists say they have no direct evidence to support this.

While the causes might be sketchy, researchers with the MIDAS project have a pretty good idea of what the future might hold should the iceberg break away from the shelf. 

"The eventual consequences might be the ice shelf collapsing in years to decades," Luckman said. "It's just a big geographical event that will change the landscape there." 

Antarctica’s Larsen B Ice Shelf: The Final Act

WATCH | The neighboring side of Larsen C has already started chipping away over the years.

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