Update: A Massive Antarctic Ice About The Size Of Delaware Is On The Verge Of Breaking Off

First Posted: Jul 07, 2017 05:06 AM EDT

A massive iceberg that is about the size of the U.S. state Delaware is about to break off in Antarctica. The 2,500 square miles iceberg will break from the Larsen C ice shelf and could float off in the Weddell Sea, south of the tip of South America.

The European Space Agency (ESA) said that the crack in the ice is now around 200 kilometers (125 miles) long. This could leave just 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) between the ocean and the end of the fissure. ESA further stated that the icebergs calve from Antarctica all the time. On the other hand, this one is notably large and its path across the ocean needs to be observed as it could pose a hazard to maritime traffic. It is expected to break off within months, according to

Adrian Luckman, a scientist monitoring Larsen C at Swansea University in Wales, said that those parts of the iceberg that have already detached have begun to move fast seaward. It widens the rift in recent days and leaves the remaining ice damaged near to breaking point. This calving of the iceberg from Larsen C ice shelf could hasten the destabilization of the said ice shelf, according to scientists.

According to the analysis of ESA and Noel Gourmelen, a scientist at the University of Edinburgh, the iceberg is enormous and could be one of the most massive ever seen from Antarctica. It is more than 600 feet thick and has about 1 trillion tons of ice, according to The Washington Post.

The calving of the ice shelves happens naturally in Antarctica. On the other hand, it is theorized that global warming accelerated the process. In 1995, the Larsen A ice shelf collapsed. Meanwhile, the Larsen B ice shelf broke up after seven years from the collapse of Larsen A. Currently, ESA is monitoring the Larsen C shelf with its CryoSat Earth and Copernicus orbiters. 

See Now: NASA's Juno Spacecraft's Rendezvous With Jupiter's Mammoth Cyclone

©2017 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission. The window to the world of science news.

Join the Conversation

Real Time Analytics