A vast ice shelf hanging on by a thin strip looks to be the next chunk to break off from the Antarctic Peninsula, the latest sign of's impact on Earth's southernmost continent.
Scientists are shocked by the rapid change of events.
Glaciologist Ted Scambos of the was monitoring satellite images of the Wilkins Ice Shelf and spotted a huge iceberg measuring 25 miles by 1.5 miles (41 kilometers by 2.5 kilometers - about 10 times the area of Manhattan) that appeared to have broken away from the shelf.
Scambos alerted colleagues at the (BAS) that it looked like the entire ice shelf - about 6,180 square miles (16,000 square kilometers - about the size of Northern Ireland)- was at risk of collapsing.
David Vaughan of the BAS had predicted in 1993 that the northern part of the Wilkins Ice Shelf was likely to be lost within 30 years if warming on the Peninsula continued at the same rate.
"Wilkins is the largest ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula yet to be threatened," he said. "I didn't expect to see things happen this quickly. The ice shelf is hanging by a thread - we'll know in the next few days and weeks what its fate will be."