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Massive chunk of Antarctica ice may break away later this winter: researchers warn
A massive chunk of ice may break away from one of Antarctica’s largest ice shelves as soon as later this winter, a team of British scientists has warned.
Scientists with Project MIDAS have found that an enormous rift in the ice shelf, known as Larsen C, has been growing at an alarming rate. Since the starting of December, it has grown nearly 11 miles in length, after enlarging 13 miles earlier in 2016.
Since 2011, the rift has grown nearly fifty miles, and it is as many as 100 miles in length in total and has widened to more than 1,000 feet. Now, just a dozen of miles of ice are keeping the chunk connected with the rest of the ice shelf. The growing crack is expected to break away a chunk nearly the size of Delaware from the large ice shelve.
The scientists said in a statement, “When it calves, the Larsen C Ice Shelf will lose more than 10% of its area to leave the ice front at its most retreated position ever recorded; this event will fundamentally change the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula.”
Project MIDAS is a British government-funded collaboration headquartered at Swansea and Aberystwyth universities in Wales.
While the scientists didn’t immediately attributed the Larsen C’s rowing crack to climate change, the fact that the ice shelf would be at its most retreated position after the looming break is certainly suggestive.
A BBC report informed, "Researchers have been tracking the rift in Larsen C for many years, watching it with some trepidation after the collapse of Larsen A ice shelf in 1995 and the sudden break-up of the Larsen B shelf in 2002. The researchers say that this is a geographical and not a climate event. The rift has been present for decades, they say, but it has punched through at this particular time."
A report published by French Tribune added, "Scientists fear the loss of ice shelves around the frozen continent will allow glaciers inland to slide faster towards the sea as temperatures rise because of global warming, raising world sea levels. Last year was the warmest on record by a wide margin, stoked by greenhouse gases and an El Nino weather event that released heat from the Pacific Ocean, the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service said on Thursday, Jan. 5."