A trillion-ton iceberg, one of the biggest ever recorded that was reported to be a ‘hanging by a thread’, splintered from the Larsen C section of the Larsen ice shelf on Wednesday morning.
This massive iceberg is almost the size of Delaware, marking the end of decade long splintering that was first witnessed in 1960s. The crack stayed small for years until, in 2014, it began racing across the Antarctic ice.
The new iceberg, at 5,800 sq km, is now expected to be called as A68. The iceberg is half as big as the B-15, which holds the record after it split off from the Ross ice shelf in 2000.
The breakage that occurred in Larsen C Ice Shelf and took more than 12% of its total area. This occurence of chunks breaking off is known as calving, which is considered a natural phenomenon, but scientists have noted that the recent event was quite enormous.
“The iceberg is one of the largest recorded, and its future progress is difficult to predict”, said Adrian Luckman of Wales' Swansea University, who led a project tracking the crack since 2015. “It may remain in one piece but is more likely to break into fragments. Some of the ice may remain in the area for decades, while parts of the iceberg may drift north into warmer waters.”
If it follows the path of previous icebergs from the Larsen Ice Shelf, it will drift north along the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula before heading northeast into the south Atlantic Ocean, according to NASA.
On concerns regarding the threat this break off may cause, scientists say that the massive iceberg isn't expected to cause any imminent danger to people, ships, or nearby areas. But they're worried about what this could mean in the long run for Antarctica and rising sea levels.