TIME Environment

An Iceberg Six Times the Size of Manhattan Is On the Loose

Antarctica Iceberg
This combination of Dec. 10, 2013, left, and March 11, 2014 photos provided by NASA shows a large iceberg separating from the Pine Island Glacier and traveling across Pine Island Bay in Antarctica. AP

Heading for the Southern Ocean? You may want to keep an eye out for the ice massif known as B31, which has broken off from the Pine Island glacier that scientists say is “thinning and draining rapidly”

A massive iceberg that broke off from Antarctica’s Pine Island glacier last November is drifting out into the open ocean, according to NASA scientists.

The ice massif, known as B31, will be swept up in the currents of the Southern Ocean soon; however, tracking the iceberg will be difficult as winter descends on Antarctic leaving little daylight for scientists to work with.

According to NASA scientists, iceberg calving is routine, but the breaking off of B31 has raised new questions about the speed at which the process occurs.

“Iceberg calving is a very normal process,” said NASA’s Kelly Brunt, a glaciologist at Goddard Space Flight Center. “However, the detachment rift, or crack, that created this iceberg was well upstream of the 30-year average calving front of Pine Island Glacier (PIG), so this a region that warrants monitoring.”

Scientists are reportedly much more interested in the fate of the Pine Island glacier, which is “thinning and draining rapidly” and could lead to a significant increase in sea levels if the process continues.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser