One of the world’s biggest icebergs broke off from its shelf in the Antarctic peninsula on Wednesday. The iceberg, which is about 6,000 sq km and four times the size of Greater London, is now adrift in the Weddell Sea.
The calving was observed by a US satellite that was passing over the region known as the Larsen C Ice Shelf, according to BBC.
“The rift was barely visible in these data in recent weeks, but the signature is so clear now that it must have opened considerably along its whole length,” said Professor Adrian Luckman, who has been following the iceberg’s evolution.
Although the iceberg is unlikely to move very far in the near future, it will need to be monitored. Experts believe it may pose a hazard to ship movements if it eventually moves north of Antarctica.
The event, however, was an expected one. On July 7, scientists working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the University of California had said that only three miles of ice was left connecting the berg to the Larsen C shelf.
Scientists are divided on the impact of this split. Some believe that it may be a sign of global warming, while others disagree.
“We do not need to press the panic button for Larsen C,” Helen Amana Fricker, a scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, had told The Guardian. “Large calving events such as this are normal processes of a healthy ice sheet, ones that have occurred for decades, centuries, millennia.”