An ice shelf weighing more than a trillion metric tons, containing twice the volume of Lake Erie, and stretching nearly the size of Delaware separated from Antarctica on Wednesday after being monitored by scientists for months, The New York Times reports.
"The remaining shelf will be at its smallest ever known size," said British researcher Adrian Luckman, who is studying the peninsula for Project Midas. "This is a big change. Maps will need to be redrawn."
Scientists have followed the Antarctic Peninsula's warming for decades, and whether the ice shelf's divorce was expedited by human-caused climate change is disputed. "While it might not be caused by global warming, it's at least a natural laboratory to study how breakups will occur at other ice shelves to improve the theoretical basis for our projections of future sea level rise," said NASA's Thomas P. Wagner.