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An Iceberg the Size of the Maldives Just Broke Off an Antarctica Glacier

A huge iceberg just broke off of one of the most fragile glaciers in Antarctica. The chunk of ice, about the size of the Tampa, Florida, cleaved from the Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica. Scientists had been keeping an eye on two huge cracks in an ice shelf down there for months. Now, the…

An Iceberg the Size of the Maldives Just Broke Off an Antarctica Glacier

A huge iceberg just broke off of one of the most fragile glaciers in Antarctica.

The chunk of ice, about the size of the Tampa, Florida, cleaved from the Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica. Scientists had been keeping an eye on two huge cracks in an ice shelf down there for months. Now, the berg is finally floating freely.

As it cleaved off its ice shelf, the iceberg broke into pieces, creating a bunch of smaller, floating ice hunks.

Calving events, the term for a large iceberg breaking off from an ice shelf, have become more and more common. Scientists are growing increasingly worried about the integrity of the glaciers behind them.

This iceberg alone won’t raise sea levels: Even before it broke off, it was floating on water. But it was buttressing the Pine Island Glacier, acting as a barrier between the warmer sea water and the ice that makes up the glacier.

As more ice floats off into the ocean, that could lead to a runaway disintegration of Antarctica’s glaciers, allowing water to eat away at glaciers from the bottom. There’s enough “vulnerable ice” in the West Antarctic region, between the Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers, to fuel up to four feet of sea level rise, according to NASA.

This berg’s been threatening to fall off its ice shelf for over a year. European Space Agency satellites noted that a pair of cracks in the ice that it’d been monitoring had grown to a length of more than 12 miles back in October.

Over the weekend, the iceberg finally made a run for it.

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