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Tuesday, October 13, 1998 Published at 22:21 GMT 23:21 UK


The big break

The break is not due to global warming

British scientists have discovered a giant iceberg which has broken off an Antarctic ice shelf.

A team from the British Antarctic Survey identified the massive slab, which is 150km by 35km, from an image taken by a US weather satellite.

The iceberg, which has broken off the Ronne ice shelf in the Weddell Sea, is four times the size of the last large iceberg to "calve" in the region.

[ image: Icebergs are monitored by several scientific stations]
Icebergs are monitored by several scientific stations
Dr Chris Doake, from the Cambridge-based BAS headquarters, said the break was not the result of global warming but rather a natural process.

He said: "Regular calving of large icebergs is a natural part of the life-cycle of an ice shelf. We have been expecting this event for some time.

"Although ice shelves are retreating on the Antarctic peninsula as a result of regional warming, we do not believe that this event is associated with climate change."

The BAS has a small depot on the new iceberg which scientists believe they will still be able to use for air operations as it is so large and stable.

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