Iceberg the Size of New York City Breaks Off Antarctica's Brunt Ice Shelf

A floating ice shelf the size of New York City broke off from a section of an iceberg in Antarctica.

A floating ice shelf the size of New York City broke off from a section of an iceberg in Antarctica in a geological process experts call "calving." Scientists who have been observing the growth of vast cracks have been awaiting the split for over a decade, according to the British Antarctic Survey.

The ice sheet, which spans nearly 490 square miles, split on Feb. 26. Scientists observed a third major crack in what they called North Rift in November. This was the third major active crack to occur in the last ten years, according to the release.

"The iceberg was formed when the crack widened several hundred meters in a few hours on the morning of 26th Feb, releasing it from the rest of floating ice shelf," the British Antarctic Survey wrote in a press release.

Experts call the geological structure "complex" and the impact of it separating "unpredictable."

The station where a 12-person team has previously worked is now closed for the winter season since emergency evacuations would be difficult. The station was previously relocated in 2016 out of precaution to avoid the pathway of the constantly moving ice shelf.

Even though they are not physically in Antarctica, the team has been monitoring the ice shelf on a daily basis, using GPA instruments and satellite images to measure how the ice is deforming and traveling.

In the coming weeks and months, scientists will begin measuring the distance the sheet continues to travel.

"Our job now is to keep a close eye on the situation and assess any potential impact of the present calving on the remaining ice shelf," said Simon Garrod, Director of Operations at BAS.

A few years ago, an iceberg compared to the size of Delaware split off from an ice sheet in 2017 during the Antarctic summer. 

Experts have made no indication that these events are directly correlated to global warming but the Antarctic Peninsula is commonly known as one of the fastest-warming areas on the planet, according to NASA.