ENORMOUS iceberg close to BREAKING AWAY from Antarctica risking FOUR INCH sea...

ENORMOUS iceberg close to BREAKING AWAY from Antarctica risking FOUR INCH sea rise

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The 5,000 square kilometre block of ice, which is one of the 10 biggest ever icebergs, could spark a four inch rise in sea levels if it rips away.

Scientists noticed a large rift in the Larsen C ice shelf in Western Antarctica had expanded suddenly last month.

Now they warn it is “hanging on by a thread” and could break away at any moment.

While the breakaway of this iceberg will not directly cause sea levels to rise, the experts behind the study from from Project Midas – a UK-based Arctic research group – believe it could leave the entire ice shelf it is attached to vulnerable to crumbling.

larsen cThe Larsen C ice shelf

Project leader Professor Adrian Luckman, from Swansea University, said: “If it doesn’t go in the next few months, I’ll be amazed.

“There hasn’t been enough cloud-free Landsat images but we’ve managed to combine a pair of Esa Sentinel-1 radar images to notice this extension, and it’s so close to calving that I think it’s inevitable.

project midasPROJECT MIDAS • SWANSEA UNIVERSITY

“The current location of the rift on Larsen C, as of January 2017.Labels highlight significant jump”

“We are convinced, although others are not, that the remaining ice shelf will be less stable than the present one.

“We would expect in the ensuing months to years further calving events, and maybe an eventual collapse – but it’s a very hard thing to predict, and our models say it will be less stable; not that it will immediately collapse or anything like that.”

larsen cGETTY

The Larsen C ice shelf

If the entire ice shelf does collapse as a result of the departing iceberg, then it could lead to a rise in sea levels of almost four inches.

Although four inches does not seem like a huge amount, between 1993 and 2014, the average sea level rose by 2.6 inches meaning that the process of rising waters will be sped up rapidly.

Prof Luckman continued: “The eventual consequences might be the ice shelf collapsing in years to decades.

“Even the sea level contribution of this area is not on anybody’s radar. It’s just a big geographical event that will change the landscape there.”