Nearly 40 Australian and international scientists will sail from Hobart on the Aurora Australis to investigate the break-up of a major Antarctic glacier.

The team led by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization's (CSIRO) Steve Rintoul departed Hobart for Antarctica's Mertz Glacier, which was hit by a 97-kilometer-long glacier last year, breaking off a 78-kilometer piece.

Once we get down to Antarctica, we'll be going to one of the few places in the world ocean where the conditions are right for water sitting at the sea surface to sink down, all the way to the sea floor four of five kilometres below the sea surface, he said ABC News.

That'll tell us a lot about how the ocean transports heat and effects the climate system.

Dr Rintoul said the collision, known as a calving, gave scientists a rare insight to study changes in the Southern Ocean's temperature and salinity.

The calving of the iceberg has exposed parts of the seabed which haven't been available for study in our lifetimes, he told ABC News.

It's a biological hotspot supporting everything from microscopic photo plankton, right up to seals and whales.

It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get in there.

The expedition has taken on extra significance after flights to the continent were suspended due to safety concerns.

The Australian Antarctic Division says ice temperatures on its runway are too warm for planes to land safely.