The Larsen C ice shelf - the biggest segment of the Larsen ice shelf in northwest Antarctica - has been a closely watched feature ever since the smaller Larsen B shelf collapsed in 2002.
When the Larsen B shelf collapsed, the (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2004GL020697/abstract) speed of the Crane Glacier went up threefold.
(The Larsen A shelf disintegrated and floated away in 1995, as did the Larsen B shelf
The center called the demise of the Larsen B shelf "the largest single event in a 30- year series of ice shelf retreats in the peninsula."
The Larsen B shelf's collapse came at the end of the warmest summer on record in the Antarctic peninsula, where average temperatures have risen by about 2.5 degrees C in the past 50 years.
Rapid warming has removed a tenth of the Antarctic's 7,500-square- mile Larsen B shelf
Scientists have been keeping an eye on the growing rift in Larsen C for years after the collapse of the Larsen A ice shelf in 1995 and the break-up of the Larsen B shelf
A team of scientists last year predicted that the entire Larsen B shelf
would rapidly disintegrate once its front edge retreated behind a theoretical line of stability--an event that happened in February 1998 (SN: 5/9/98, p.
The recent loss may cause the entire Larsen B shelf
, which covers more than 10,000 square km, to crumble in the next year or two, says Scambos.