Antarctica's fragile ice

A large portion of an ice shelf that was said to be “hanging by a thread” last month has broken off from the Antarctic mainland, creating one of the world’s largest icebergs according to a Wednesday report by British Antarctic research group Project MIDAS.

The iceberg, which is estimated to have separated from Larsen C ice shelf between Monday and Wednesday, will be named A68. It weighs one trillion tons and contains twice the volume of water held in Lake Erie, the report said. It is 5,800 square kilometers, making it nearly twice the size of Rhode Island.

The ice shelf’s calving has been expected for some time. Project MIDAS wrote that is was “watching with bated breath” after the rift separating the iceberg from the main shelf grew 11 miles in six days in late May. At the time, lead investigator of Project MIDAS Adrian Luckman wrote that the separation of the ice shelf would “fundamentally change the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula.”

Here’s a look at images of the threatened ice shelves and glaciers of the South Pole.

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Satellite view of Antarctica

A undated satellite view of Antarctica obtained by Reuters February 6, 2012. (Photo: NASA/Handout via Reuters)

Rift in the Larsen C ice shelf

An aerial view of the rift in the Larsen C ice shelf seen in an image from the Digital Mapping System over the Antarctica Peninsula, Antarctica, on Nov. 10, 2016. (Photo: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Handout via Reuters)

The Larsen C ice shelf

A section of an iceberg, about 6,000 sq km, broke away as part of the natural cycle of iceberg calving off the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica in this satellite image released by the European Space Agency on July 12, 2017. (Photo courtesy ESA/Handout via Reuters)

Gentoo penguins in Cuverville Island

View of Gentoo penguins in Cuverville Island, in the western Antarctic peninsula on March 4, 2016. Waddling over the rocks, legions of penguins hurl themselves into the icy waters of Antarctica, foraging to feed their young. Like seals and whales, they eat krill, an inch-long shrimp-like crustacean that forms the basis of the Southern Ocean food chain. But penguin-watchers say the krill are getting scarcer in the western Antarctic peninsula, under threat from climate change and fishing. (Photo: Eitan Abramovich/AFP/Getty Images)

Ice floats, West Antarctica

Ice floats near the coast of West Antarctica as seen from a window of a NASA Operation IceBridge airplane during a mission to observe sea ice on Oct. 27, 2016 in-flight over Antarctica. NASA’s Operation IceBridge has been studying how polar ice has evolved over the past eight years and is currently flying a set of 12-hour research flights over West Antarctica at the start of the melt season. Researchers have used the IceBridge data to observe that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet may be in a state of irreversible decline directly contributing to rising sea levels. NASA and University of California, Irvine (UCI) researchers have recently detected the speediest ongoing Western Antarctica glacial retreat rates ever observed. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Blood Falls and the Taylor Glacier

Blood Falls and the Taylor Glacier near McMurdo Station, Antarctica, Friday, Nov. 11, 2016. (Photo: Mark Ralston/Pool Photo via AP)

A Gentoo in Petermann Island

A Gentoo is pictured in Petermann Island, Antarctica, on March 2, 2016. (Photo: Eitan Abramovich/AFP/Getty Images)

Coastal mountains, West Antarctica

Mountains stand near the coast of West Antarctica as seen from a window of a NASA Operation IceBridge airplane on October 27, 2016 in-flight over Antarctica. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

A NASA scientist observes ice floats

Lyn Lohberger of NASA looks out as sea ice floats near the coast of West Antarctica from a window of a NASA Operation IceBridge airplane on October 27, 2016 in-flight over Antarctica. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Ice floats, West Antarctica

Ice floats near the coast of West Antarctica as viewed from a window of a NASA Operation IceBridge airplane on October 28, 2016 in-flight over Antarctica. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Ice floats, West Antarctica

Ice floats near the coast of West Antarctica viewed from a window of a NASA Operation IceBridge airplane on Oct. 27, 2016 in-flight over Antarctica. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Seals rest on an ice floe

Seals rest on an ice floe near Winter Island, Antarctica, on March 2, 2016. (Photo: Eitan Abramovich/AFP/Getty Images)

Penguin footprints

View of penguin footprints in Petermann Island, Antarctica, on March 2, 2016. (Photo: Eitan Abramovich/AFP/Getty Images)

Ice off the coast of West Antarctic

Ice is viewed near the coast of West Antarctica from a window of a NASA Operation IceBridge airplane on Oct. 27, 2016 in flight over Antarctica. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Tourists visit Wordie House

Tourists visit Wordie House, a hut built by the old British Graham Land Expedition (BGLE) and now a museum, in Winter Island, Antarctica, on March 2, 2016. (Photo: Eitan Abramovich/AFP/Getty Images)

Glaciers and mountains, West Antarctica

Glaciers and mountains in the evening sun are seen on an Operation IceBridge research flight, returning from West Antarctica on Oct. 29, 2014. NASA is carrying out research flights over Antarctica to study changes in the continent’s ice sheet, glaciers and sea ice. The Antarctic Peninsula has been warming faster than the rest of the continent. (Photo: NASA/Michael Studinger)

A Weddell seal rests

A Weddell seal rests on an ice floe in the western Antarctic peninsula, on March 5, 2016. (Photo: Eitan Abramovich/AFP/Getty Images)

Tourists cruise the western Antarctic peninsula

Tourists cruise the western Antarctic peninsula on March 5, 2016. The Antarctic tourism industry is generally considered to have begun in the late 1950s when Chile and Argentina took more than 500 fare-paying passengers to the South Shetland Islands aboard a naval transportation ship. The concept of ‘expedition cruising,’ coupled with education as a major theme, began when Lars-Eric Lindblad led the first traveler’s expedition to Antarctica in 1966. Prior to this, human activity in Antarctica was limited to the early explorers, those seeking fortune in the exploitation of seals and whales, and more recently to scientific research and exploration. (Photo: Eitan Abramovich/AFP/Getty Images)

A Weddell seal lies atop ice

A Weddell seal lies atop ice at Cape Denison, Commonwealth Bay, East Antarctica Jan. 1, 2010. China and Russia have thwarted an international attempt to create the world’s largest ocean sanctuary in Antarctica as both nations eye the region’s rich reserves of fish and krill. The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) wound up a 10-day meeting in Hobart, Australia on October 31, 2014, without the consensus needed for a deal to conserve and manage the marine ecosystems in the Southern Ocean. While Russia blocked conservation proposals for a fourth consecutive time, China?s refusal to back the international plan came as a surprise to many delegates after previous statements of support for conservation and marine protection. Picture taken January 1, 2010. (Photo: Pauline Askin/Reueters)

Pine Island Glacier, West Antarctica

An aerial view of a massive crack across the Pine Island Glacier, Nov. 13, 2011. In mid-October 2011, NASA scientists working in Antarctica discovered a massive crack across the Pine Island Glacier, a major ice stream that drains the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Extending for 19 miles (30 kilometers), the crack was 260 feet (80 meters) wide and 195 feet (60 meters) deep. Eventually, the crack will extend all the way across the glacier, and calve a giant iceberg that will cover about 350 square miles (900 square kilometers). (Photo: NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team)

Adelie penguins stand atop melting ice

Adelie penguins stand atop a block of melting ice on a rocky shoreline at Cape Denison, Commonwealth Bay, in East Antarctica, Jan. 1, 2010. (Photo: Pauline Askin/Reuters)

The Getz Ice Shelf

The Getz Ice Shelf extends several miles into the ocean from the Getz Glacier as it empties into the ocean along the Antarctic coast, Nov. 5, 2010. The vertical face of the ice shelf is almost 200 feet high and is estimated to extend another 1000 feet below the ocean surface. (Photo: NASA/Dick Ewers)

Adelie penguins stand atop ice

Adelie penguins stand atop ice near the French station at Dumont d’Urville in East Antarctica, Jan. 22, 2010. (Photo: Pauline Askin/Reuters)

Livingston Island glaciers

Glaciers of Livingston Island are pictured in the Antarctica continent, Nov. 25, 2008. (Photo: Paulo Whitaker/Reuters)

A satellite monitoring system is installed

David Vaughan, a glaciologist with the British Antarctic Survey, installs a pole as part of a satellite monitoring system into the Wilkins Ice Shelf off the Antarctic Peninsula on Jan. 18, 2009. The huge Antarctic ice shelf is on the brink of collapse with just a sliver of ice holding it in place, the latest victim of global warming that is altering maps of the frozen continent. (Photo: Alister Doyle/Reuters)

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