Iceberg Twice the Size of Rhode Island Breaks off Antarctica

A trillion-ton iceberg a quarter of the size of Wales just broke off Antarctica

A massive iceberg almost four times the size of Greater London has broken away from Antarctica.

It was a natural event that wasn't caused by man-made climate change, said Swansea glaciologist Martin O'Leary.

The Larsen C ice shelf is the fourth-biggest on the continent, and covers about 19,300 square miles of ice.

According to MIDAS, a previous ice shelf named Larsen B disintegrated 15 years ago after its own large calving event, and Larsen C may follow suit. The Larsen C ice shelf is now 10 percent smaller as result of the split, an event that scientists said has altered the shape of the Antarctic peninsula. Both the European Space Agency's Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellite and NASA's Suomi NPP satellite captured images when the iceberg finally broke away Wednesday. The newly formed iceberg's volume is twice that of Lake Erie.

And it's this once-land-based ice that would impact sea levels, researchers say.

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"Although this is a natural event, and we're not aware of any link to human-induced climate change, this puts the ice shelf in a very vulnerable position", said Martin O'Leary, a glaciologist at Swansea University in the USA and member of the MIDAS project team. At 2,200 square miles, the chunk of floating ice is almost the size of Delaware.

Scientists believe that the fault is likely triggered by climate change.

Experts will continue to monitor the iceberg, as winds and currents could move it northward, eventually putting it in the way of shipping routes, the BBC reported. However, it doesn't mean the ice sheet break off will have an immediate impact on anyone: Scientists said the iceberg won't change the sea level because Larsen C was already floating previous the carving.

"This calving is dramatic but normal in the life cycle of an ice shelf", said the British Antarctic Survey. "But the ice shelf is now at its most retreated position ever recorded and regional warming may have played a part in that".

"Iceberg calving is a normal part of the glacier life cycle, and there is every chance that Larsen C will remain stable and this ice will regrow", he said. Whether A68 will eventually break apart or remain as one behemoth iceberg can not yet be anticipated, though it has been suggested that it is likely to fragment at some point.

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