From the New York Times to National Geographic, the massive iceberg that broke from Antarctica last week has been making headlines around the world. It was announced after America withdrew from the Paris Agreement. Somewhat ironic, the Paris Agreement is an international accord that will stop the rise of global temperatures, introduce cleaner energy, and invest money in third world countries to encourage the same. The area that broke off is a section of the Larsen C shelf that has been monitored for the past year. Since it broke free, it has sparked concern about climate change, long-term effects, and where this massive chunk of ice will go.

It has sent the world into a frenzy - illustrating the rarity of this type of event.

The discovery

Last year, NASA received high resolution images from their satellite that showed a crack in the Larsen C Ice Shelf. It measured 112km long, 500m deep, and 100m wide, but by July of this year it had elongated by more than 80km. UK’s MIDAS project tracked this development for over a year, and between Monday, July 10 and Wednesday, July 12, the area detached from the shelf. It sent one trillion tons of ice into the ocean. The size of the iceberg has been said to be equivalent to the cities of Montreal and Delaware, or a quarter the size of the country Wales. At a whopping 5, 800 square kilometers, this iceberg will not be disappearing anytime soon.

The reason

Despite the natural occurrence of ice chunks breaking from glaciers, the size and weight of this iceberg is extremely unusual. It remains unclear whether this was caused by man-made climate change or not. Over the last half a century, Antarctica has been slowly, steadily, and naturally warming, as opposed to man-made climate change, which involves pollution, rising ocean temperatures, and the deterioration of the ozone layer.

The effect

Martin Siegart, a Professor of Geosciences from the Imperial College London, has said that if the entirety of Antarctica were to melt and flow into the ocean, sea levels would rise sixty meters. The long-term effects of an iceberg this big in the ocean are uncertain. Many speculate that pieces will break off over time, other believes that pieces will break off and make their way to warmer waters, and others believe it will remain intact and float around. Either way, it is likely that it will be several decades before the iceberg melts completely. And until it does, nobody can truly predict what will happen.