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Giant Iceberg Could Impact One of the World’s Busiest Shipping Lanes

A satellite view of Larsen B Ice ShelfA satellite view of Larsen B Ice Shelf
A Feb. 2000 photo ahead of the collapse of the Larsen B Ice Shelf, Antarctica, which took place in 2002.USGS/NASA Landsat data/Orbital Horizon/Gallo Images/Getty Images

While scientists examine the environmental impacts of the massive iceberg that has broken off of Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf, the shipping world is keeping its eye on the potential financial impact.

Should the 1 trillion ton iceberg, which is larger than Delaware and more than twice the size of Rhode Island, begin to migrate, it could be a substantial disruption to transportation. The Drake Passage, a gap between Cape Horn at the bottom of South America and Antarctica’s South Shetland Islands, is one of the world’s busiest international shipping lanes.

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And scientists say they’re not sure what the iceberg will do, now that it has calved (science-speak for separation).

“The iceberg is one of the largest recorded and its future progress is difficult to predict,” said Professor Adrian Luckman of Swansea University, lead investigator of the MIDAS project. “It may remain in one piece but is more likely to break into fragments. Some of the ice may remain in the area for decades, while parts of the iceberg may drift north into warmer waters.”