An enormous iceberg with an area of over 2,000 square miles — or roughly the size of Delaware — is expected to break off from one of Antarctica’s largest ice shelves.
If the Larsen C detaches, it will be considered one of the world’s largest ever icebergs that will float off into the Weddell Sea.
Scientists have been monitoring the progress of the crack and are expecting a break. In early June, scientists claimed the Larsen C was 8 miles from the edge of the ice. Now, just 3 miles of ice continue to connect the imminent iceberg to the Larsen Ice Shelf on the northeast coast of Antarctica, according to the European Space Agency.
If the iceberg drifts away, it could potentially create danger for ships.
“We are not sure what will happen,” Anna Hogg, with the University of Leeds, told ESA. “It could, in fact, even calve in pieces or break up shortly after. Whole or in pieces, ocean currents could drag it north, even as far as the Falkland Islands. If so it could pose a hazard for ships in Drake Passage.”
Parts of the iceberg that have already detached have moved rapidly seaward and left the remaining ice “strained near to breaking point,” Adrian Luckman, a scientist monitoring Larsen C at Swansea University in Wales, said.
If and when the iceberg does slip into the sea, it would not affect global sea level. However, some scientists fear that it could possibly destabilize the greater Larsen C ice shelf.
The iceberg itself will be over 600 feet thick and contain approximately 1 trillion tons of ice, according to an analysis by ESA.
In recent years, Antarctica has faced an increase in breaks in its ice shelves.
The Larsen A ice shelf located toward the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula collapsed in 1995, while the Larsen B, situated closer to the South Pole, faced the same experience in 2002.