Several Alpine houses in northwestern Italy have been evacuated out of fear they will be in the path of falling ice from a glacier that officials believe is close to collapsing.

Scientists say they are most concerned about the left side of the Planpincieux glacier on Mount Blanc.  It's not like ice hasn't fallen before, but this chunk is as wide as two football pitches and as tall as an eight storey building.  And the glacier is moving at a rate of 60 centimeters/24 inches per day - way faster than the famously slow-going ice formations usually travel.

"For a glacier, it's a lot," said Jean-Pierre Fosson, director of the Safe Mountain Foundation, who is well aware of the reason Planpincieux is moving.  "The great problem for the glacier is not the one day of high temperatures - instead, it's the continuous high temperatures night and day."   

In other words, global warming.  Summer temperatures in the Alps are higher then in the past, and the overnight low temperature isn't enough to refreeze enough of the melting glacier.

Safe Mountain Foundation glaciologist Fabrizio Troilo told Sky News the huge piece of the glacier could break off in the next few days.