4 things you need to know about the iceberg that broke off Antarctica

A close-up view of the crack, or rift, in Antarctica's Larsen C ice shelf, as seen on Nov. 10, 2016, Photo Date: 11/10/16 Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) – A large chunk of ice in Antarctica that is 2,239 square miles broke away from its ice shelf on Wednesday.

This is the fourth-largest iceberg separation in Antarctica’s history, according to CNN.

Here are four things you need to know about the large chunk of ice.

4. Scientists have anticipated the possible occurrence for a long time

Dr. Martin O’Leary of Swansea University told Voice of America they’ve been studying the possibility of this occurring for the past three years.

“We became concerned in 2014 when it started to become obvious that this crack was going to produce a particularly large iceberg, much larger than we had initially expected,” O’Leary said.

3. This separation will not affect sea levels

The iceberg breaking off is not expected to contribute to a rise in sea levels because it was already floating before it broke off.

But it will still change the landscape of Antarctica because there will be one less ice shelf to provide a buffer zone between sea and land, according to the NASA Earth Observatory.

Anna Hogg, a researcher with the UK’s Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling at the University of Leeds, tells NPR it is like having an ice cube inside your gin and tonic.

"When the ice cube melts, it doesn't raise the volume of water in that glass."

2. It isn’t known whether climate change affected this break-up

Climate change has been responsible for previous iceberg break-ups that have occurred throughout Antarctica.

But scientists still haven’t been able to determine whether it was the main cause of this break-up.

The main reason is that the process of icebergs breaking off, known as calving, is a natural process. But the process of glaciers going towards the ocean could speed up because of this breakup.

1. This is iceberg is HUGE

As mentioned before, the iceberg is 2,239 square miles. It weighs a trillion tons and is the size of Delaware. It also has a volume twice as big as Lake Erie and more than three times the size of the greater London area.

The iceberg has four times as much as ice as the ice sheet that melts away from Greenland every year, according to the Washington Post.

Professor Adrian Luckman of Swansea University tells CNN, "This is part of the normal behavior of ice shelves. What makes this unusual is the size."

Since the breakup, the Larsen C ice shelf has been reduced by 12 percent.

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