Giant tabular icebergs surrounded by ice floe drift in Vincennes Bay in the Australian Antarctic Territory January 11, 2008. Australia's CSIRO's atmospheric research unit has found the world is warming faster than predicted by the United Nations' top climate change body, with harmful emissions exceeding worst-case estimates. Picture taken January 11, 2008. REUTERS/Torsten Blackwood/Pool (ANTARTICA)

Moscow - An atomic icebreaker has rescued 16 Russian scientists from a fracturing ice floe in the Arctic, the ship's captain said Monday.

The nuclear-powered Yamal is expected to collect all of the equipment of the SP-40 research station within the next four or five days, Stanislav Rumyantsev was quoted as saying by the Rosatomflot icebreaker fleet operator.

The scientists, who were monitoring climate change in the Arctic, had to be rescued after the ice underneath their station began to crack because of unusual warm weather. When they sent an SOS call on May 8, their floe had cracked into six parts, Russian state television reported.

The icebreaker reached the station, which is located off Canada, on Saturday, some eight days after leaving the Russian harbor of Murmansk, Rosatomflot said on its website. The rescuers used a Kamov Ka-32 freight helicopter to move part of the equipment onto the ship.

The station had started to work in October under the auspices of Russia's Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, located in St. Petersburg. - Sapa-dpa