Massive iceberg breaks off Antarctica

Rift across the Larsen C ice shelf. (Courtesy: NASA/John Sonntag)
Rift across the Larsen C ice shelf in November 2016. (Courtesy: NASA/John Sonntag)

ANTARCTICA (KXAN) — One of the world’s largest icebergs has finally broken off from an ice shelf in western Antarctica.

British scientists say the iceberg broke off from the Larsen C Ice Shelf sometime between Monday, July 10 and Wednesday, July 12. Researchers with Project MIDAS, a UK-based Antarctic research group, detected the break with the help of data from NASA’s Aqua MODIS satellite.

The iceberg weighs an estimated 1.12 trillion tons and is approximately the size of Delaware. Scientists have been monitoring the rift over the last year. NASA reported the rift in Larsen C measured about 300 feet wide and cut about a one-third of a mile deep.

The MIDAS group states because the iceberg was already floating before it broke off, they don’t expect any immediate impact on sea level.

“We have been anticipating this event for months, and have been surprised how long it took for the rift to break through the final few kilometres of ice,” says professor Adrian Luckman of Swansea University in the blog post. “We will continue to monitor both the impact of this calving event on the Larsen C Ice Shelf, and the fate of this huge iceberg.”

Researchers say this is a natural event and they’re not aware of any link to human-induced climate change.

Rift across the Larsen C ice shelf in November 2016. (Courtesy: NASA/John Sonntag)
Rift across the Larsen C ice shelf in November 2016. (Courtesy: NASA/John Sonntag)

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