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By Alexander Smith

A giant crack in an Antarctic ice shelf has forced a team of scientists to abandon their station for the winter.

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) said Monday it was moving its 88-strong team away from the Halley VI Research Station after the 30-mile crack appeared around 10 miles to the north of the site in October.

The Halley VI station in Antarctica.British Antarctic Survey

The BAS has been "unable to predict" whether part of the ice shelf will break away and form a giant iceberg — possibly separating the station from the mainland.

The U.K. government organization was confident it could get its people off the research station in the summer, which falls between December and February in Antarctica, but getting them out in winter would be "extremely difficult." Between March and September, the region is cut off by frozen seas and suffers 24-hour darkness and temperatures of minus 67.

The station comprises eight modules on hydraulic skis. Scientists there study climate change and space weather, counting the 1985 discovery of the ozone layer among their achievements.

It is expected to reopen in November.