LONDON, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- A vast antarctic iceberg that could threaten marine commerce if it drifts into shipping lanes will be studied under an emergency grant, British researchers say.
The $80,000 award will fund a six-month project that will attempt to predict the movement through the Southern Ocean of the 270-square-mile iceberg that broke off from Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier in July, the BBC reported Tuesday.
Recent aerial images show a growing stretch of water between the iceberg and the glacier, scientists said.
"From the time it had been found that the crack had gone all the way across in July, it had stayed iced-in because it was still winter" in Antarctica, principal investigator Grant Bigg from the University of Sheffield said.
"But in the last couple of days, it has begun to break away and now a kilometer or two of clear water has developed between it and the glacier."
"It often takes a while for bergs from this area to get out of Pine Island Bay but once they do that they can either go eastwards along the coast or they can ... circle out into the main part of the Southern Ocean," he said.
If the iceberg moved through The Drake Passage water between South America's Cape Horn and Antarctica's South Shetland Islands, the huge ice island could end up in busy international shipping lanes, he said.