Trillion-ton iceberg breaks off Antarctica


Amazingly it isn't the largest recorded iceberg to break away from Antarctica, even though it is roughly six-times the size of Auckland, as one twice the size broke off the Ross Ice-shelf 17 years-ago.

A section of an iceberg - about 6,000 sq km - broke away as part of the natural cycle of iceberg calving off the Larsen-C ice shelf in Antarctica in this satellite image released by the European Space Agency on July 12, 2017.

The state of the Larsen C ice shelf crack in November 2016.

He also said the break off is a naturally occurring phenomenon, with big ice-shelves like the one it was attached to naturally loosing icebergs every so often due to massive build up over time.

"Breaking news! The iceberg has fully detached from Larsen C - more details to follow soon", Martin O'Leary a glaciologist at Swansea University, wrote in a tweet early Wednesday morning for Project MIDAS.

Scientists from the Swansea University-led Midas Project announced on Wednesday that the rift had finally made its way through ice and had been expected to happen for a long time.

The Larsen C iceberg detachment taking place has drawn widespread attention because many in the public have speculated that it happened as a effect of global warming.

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"The iceberg is one of the largest recorded and its future progress is hard to predict".

While the newly separated iceberg now remains a single entity, it is likely to break into fragments in the future.

Though the Larsen C ice shelf will regenerate to some extent, most researchers agree the loss of the iceberg will leave the ice shelf significantly less stable than it was before the break.

But it removed more than 10 percent of the ice shelf, and if that eventually hastens the flow of glaciers behind it into the water, there could be a "very modest" rise in sea level, the project said. "Some of the ice may remain in the area for decades, while parts of the iceberg may drift north into warmer waters", Luckman added.

"In the ensuing months and years, the ice shelf could either gradually regrow, or may suffer further calving events which may eventually lead to collapse - opinions in the scientific community are divided", Luckman said.

Described as a natural event, scientists still warned that the rupture puts the Larsen C shelf in a very vulnerable position. The scientist though also said future collapses were decades away according to their models. "This is the furthest back that the ice front has been in recorded history".