So an iceberg the size of Delaware just broke off from the Antarctic

The separation will mean maps of the Antarctic Peninsula will need to be redrawn.
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A giant iceberg the size of the state of Delaware broke off from the Antarctic ice shelf on Wednesday morning.

The separation of the iceberg had been expected, with the BBC reporting that scientists had been following the development of the large crack in the Larsen C ice shelf for more than a decade.

Nonetheless the size of the rift in the shelf has accelerated since 2014, culminating Wednesday when the 6,000 square kilometer block broke off, according to NASA satellites.

According to Time.com, the iceberg – which is likely to be named A68 – weights an estimated 1.12 trillion tons and has twice the volume of Lake Erie.

It's likely to be one of the 10 largest icebergs ever recorded, the Guardian notes, and is about as half as big as the record-holding B-15, which broke off from the Ross ice shelf in 2000.

In and of itself, the carving of the iceberg doesn't have any huge implications in the short term, as it's natural behavior for 'bergs to separate from ice shelves. The BBC notes shelves like to "maintain an equilibrium" by ejecting icebergs to balance the extra mass it gets from snowfall and more ice from glaciers that feed it.

But it nonetheless is putting focus back on the threat from climate change, which could in the future lead to the disintegration of ice shelves and cause sea levels to rise as a result, with the Larsen C shelf now at its smallest area since the last ice age 11,700 years ago.

The New York Times reports that the warming of the Antarctic Peninsula, which points towards South America and is where the Larsen ice shelf is located, has slowed or potentially even reversed slightly since 2000, but in the late 20th Century was one of the fastest-warming places in the world.

Despite temperature rises slowing in recent years, scientists believe the ice is "still catching up" to the higher temperatures seen over the past half century, and could lead to the further breakup of ice shelves in future years.

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