LONDON, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- A huge iceberg is almost certain to break off from Antarctica in months after an enormous rift in one of the continent's largest ice shelves grew dramatically in December, British scientists have said.
The UK-based Project MIDAS, which has spent years surveying the ice shelf, said on Thursday that a 5000-square-km area of the Larsen C Ice Shelf, the most northern major ice sheet in Antarctica, is hanging on to the continent by a thread just 20 km long.
The crack suddenly grew more than 18 km during the second half of December, researchers said. If it continues to grow at the current rate, the ice shelf could collapse in months, forming one of the largest icebergs ever recorded.
If the section of Larsen C breaks away, it will remove around 10 percent of the ice shelf area and leave the remainder vulnerable to future breakup.
"The event will fundamentally change the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula," they said.
In total, the rift has grown about 80 km and widened to over 300 meters since 2011.
It is the third section of the enormous Larsen Ice Shelf to face disintegration in the last few decades. The first section, known as Larsen A, collapsed in January 1995, and Larsen B broke up in early 2002. Enditem