It has finally happened – a huge iceberg with an area of nearly 5,800 square kilometers and weighing one trillion tons has separated from Antarctica and is floating away. This has been verified by MIDAS, a UK-based research team, which was monitoring a break in the Larsen C ice shelf.

This is the fourth largest in this area after the Larsen A ice shelf in 1995, and a team of scientists have kept a close watch on its behavior over the past 12 months. They have now announced that the ice sheet has, indeed, broken away, and this is also confirmed by NASA through its satellites which can produce high-resolution images.

The size of the breakaway piece matters

CNN reports that scientists were monitoring this iceberg for nearly one whole year anticipating the separation, and the last stages took quite a lot of time.

Professor Adrian Luckman of Swansea University, who is the lead investigator of the MIDAS project, has indicated this to a section of the media.

He has added that such breakaways have been there in Antarctica in the past, but in this case, it was the size that was unusual. It is floating on its own, and the reduction in area of the Larsen C ice shelf is of the order of more than 12%.

However, this pales in comparison to the largest iceberg ever, which had an area of more than 11,000 square kilometers. It had broken away from the Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf in March 2000.

Predictions on the after effects

In the opinion of Professor Adrian Luckman, the impact of this massive iceberg from Antarctica would not be felt immediately, but its effects might be felt over a period of time. Icebergs keep breaking away due to various reasons, and this particular one is significant because of its size.

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It is a geographical event which has changed the landscape of the Larsen C ice shelf and will be monitored by scientists who will treat it like any other iceberg.

He has added that the breaking away of ice shelves is a natural occurrence and whether it was due to climate change has to be investigated. It is difficult to make a guess on just how the process of breaking away began. Scientists will be examining various aspects to ascertain if climate change could have hastened the phenomenon. In the absence of adequate evidence, the blame cannot be attributed to global warming and climate change. In any case, it is a matter of concern for mankind because, as the iceberg travels across the oceans, it will melt and add to the water levels.