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Last Updated: Sunday April 05 2009 10:40 GMT

Ice bridge snaps in Antarctica

Part of the Wilkins Ice Shelf as it begins to break away

An ice bridge linking a huge chunk of ice that's about 25 miles long to an island in Antarctica has snapped.

Scientists think the collapse could mean the Wilkins Ice Shelf could break away any day now, and say it provides the latest evidence of global warming.

An ice shelf is a thick platform of ice which floats on the surface of the sea.

The Wilkins Ice Shelf has been moving since the 1990s, but experts say this is the first time it's broken away from one of the links keeping it in place.

Although its barely attached to land anymore, because the ice is still floating, the damage won't affect sea levels.

Map
Climate change in the Antarctica Peninsula is worrying scientists

But experts say it does raise concerns about the impact of climate change in this part of the world.

David Vaughan, an expert in glaciers with The British Antarctic Survey (BAS), said the bridge was intact two days ago.

"It's amazing how the ice has ruptured," he said. "We've waited a long time to see this."

Over the past 30 years, several ice shelves have retreated, with six said to have collapsed completely.



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