The iceberg itself will be nearly 5,200 square kilometres in area, but that’s just the beginning of what figures to be tumultuous times for the Antarctic ice.
The breakup could destabilize the entire ice shelf, which could add over 10 cm to global sea-level rise all by itself.
Ice shelves represent a kind of uneasy buffer zone between ice flowing from glaciers on land and the relatively warm ocean waters. They float frozen atop the water, absorbing ice as it moves down toward the coast.
Although they can last for millennia — parts of this ice shelf date back some 10,000 years — ice shelves aren’t permanent, unchanging fixtures, with the water below and the air above below both, gradually melting and breaking off pieces.
While the researchers at the British Project MIDAS say this breakup is, broadly speaking, a naturally occurring event, they do acknowledge that climate change has likely accelerated the timing.