A trillion ton, 5,800 sq km iceberg has broken off from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica sometime between July 10 and July 12. It is one of the biggest icebergs, to have broken off, on record from Antarctica. It is roughly of the size of the state of Delaware in the USA or the Indonesian island of Bali and twice the volume of Lake Erie. It has been close to disembarking from the shelf for a few months now and has been under observation by the scientists at the University of Swansea and the British Antarctic Survey.
The breaking off of the iceberg was a natural event, unaffected by man-made climate changes in any way. Scientists say that the break would not affect the sea levels in a short term but may have some effect in the long run. Professor Adrian Luckman of the Swansea University added that the future progress of the iceberg is difficult to predict and while there is a slight chance that it may remain in one piece, it is most likely to break into smaller pieces and some of it may remain as ice near Antarctica, other parts are most likely to drift north towards warmer waters.
While the iceberg is currently out of way for major trade routes, it may pose a threat to the ships sailing towards South America. The iceberg was already floating before it broke away from the Larsen C ice shelf, and while it may not cause a rise in the sea levels, it has reduced the area of the ice shelf by more than 12 percent. The Larsen A and B ice shelves were situated north of Larsen C ice shelf before they collapsed in 1995 and 2002, respectively. A rise in the sea level is expected if the Larsen C ice shelf begins to retreat significantly, eventually collapsing. Opinions within the scientific community are divided on the fate of the ice shelf, some hoping that the ice shelf would gradually grow back in size, while others predict that the ice shelf would collapse.
While the cause of the breaking off of the iceberg has been deemed as natural causes, Larsen C was the part of the Antarctic peninsula that warmed the fastest in recent decades.