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The Larsen C Iceberg will be Huge

3Where the Journey Begins

The Weddell Sea, which is where the iceberg will begin its journey, typically spits floating ice on a path along the Antarctic Peninsula. From there, icebergs have usually followed a path out into the south Atlantic or along the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, according to historical data compiled by the ESA.

Beyond monitoring the threat to mariners, scientists will be intently checking on what remains of the Larsen C ice shelf. The iceberg-to-be represents approximately 10 percent of the ice shelf’s area. Losing that much mass at once is likely to change how the ice shelf behaves and scientists will be watching closely to see if more icebergs form or if the shelf exhibits other signs of weakness.

If the ice shelf does eventually disappear, it could accelerate the rate of sea level rise by unleashing a torrent of ice currently clinging to the Antarctic Peninsula. It’s a story playing out not just with Larsen C, but with other ice shelves around Antarctica as warming waters and air driven by climate change cut them down to size (though the Larsen C rift is likely due to natural causes). Their continued health is one of the key factors in determining how much oceans will rise.