Halley VI Research Station will be relocated to a new site 23 kms upstream
The Halley VI Research Station will be relocated to a new site 23km upstreamBAS

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) is to shut for eight months over concerns that it is too near an ice shelf which is cracking. All staff from the Halley VI base will be removed from March to November.

The British Antarctic research base says it has discovered a new crack in the Brunt ice shelf and experts cannot say what the weather will be like during the Antarctic winter, calling it a "complex glaciological picture".

"As a precautionary measure BAS will remove its people before the Antarctic winter begins," the organisation said.

The UK research base, which is famous for being the first to discover the hole in the ozone layer, will be moved to a safer location further inland.

It has emerged that a previously dormant ice chasm started to show signs of growing bigger in 2012. Scientists say the new fissure, 10 miles to the north of the station may make it unpredictable in the harsh weather.

January is the second warmest month of the year in the Antarctic, according to data from the American Amundsen-Scott station collected between 1957 to 1988. The average high temperature in January is -18 degrees F.

Tim Stockings, director of operations, said in a statement: "This challenging engineering project is scheduled to complete as planned by early March 2017. We want to do the right thing for our people. Bringing them home for winter is a prudent precaution given the changes that our glaciologists have seen in the ice shelf in recent months."

He added: "Our goal is to winterise the station and leave it ready for reoccupation as soon as possible after the Antarctic winter."

A second fissure in the ice was seen in October 2016 and glaciologists have been keenly tracking its increase in size using GPS instruments measuring malformations in the ice. Satellite imagery from the European Space Agency and drone footage is also used to monitor ice movements and changes.