Environment: Giant Antarctic ice sheet breaking up

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The Independent Online
A giant ice sheet twice the size of Norfolk is breaking up in Antarctica and will probably fall into the sea during the next couple of years, say scientists.

The cause is almost certainly global warming, according to experts at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS). But they discounted claims made yesterday that its melting could "switch off" the enormous water flows that constitute the Gulf Stream, which warms Britain by several degrees compared to places such as Newfoundland, which is at roughly the same latitude on the Canadian coast.

The Larsen B ice shelf on the eastern side of the continent is unstable, and will follow thousands of square miles of ice which have melted as temperatures have risen this century. New data published today in the journal Science, using military satellite photos taken in 1963 and now declassified, also show that there have been shrinkages in the huge Ross ice shelf.

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