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A London-sized iceberg broke off Antarctica, but scientists are chill

The icy absolute unit is now floating free in the ocean.

icebergd28calved

Iceberg D-28 is on its own now.

ESA Sentinel-1A

When we hear about massive icebergs breaking off into the ocean, we immediately want to know: How big are we talking here? Iceberg D-28 broke free last week from the Amery Ice Shelf in East Antarctica, the Australian Antarctic Division reported on Tuesday, and it's a whopper.

D-28 is about "the size of urban Sydney or the Isle of Skye in Scotland," said the division, which is part of Australia's Department of the Environment and Energy. 

The European Space Agency's Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellite tracked the calving event. ESA likened the iceberg's size to that of Greater London. It's about 620 square miles (1,600 square kilometers) in size. 

The space agency released a GIF of before-and-after images of the iceberg. 

The iceberg's breakaway didn't come as a huge surprise to scientists who had nicknamed the area next to the iceberg the "Loose Tooth." They've been monitoring the site for almost two decades. 

"We knew it would happen eventually, but just to keep us all on our toes, it is not exactly where we expected it to be," said Scripps Institution of Oceanography professor Helen Amanda Fricker.   

While there is plenty of bad news related to climate change near the poles, iceberg D-28's escape might just be a standard process for this ice shelf. "We don't think this event is linked to climate change, it's part of the ice shelf's normal cycle, where we see major calving events every 60 to 70 years," Fricker said.

It's been over 50 years since the last major iceberg calving in this part of Antarctica. D-28 separated from the ice shelf on Sept. 26.

Researchers will continue to keep an eye on the ice shelf. They're curious if the loss of D-28 will impact how the ocean melts the remaining ice from underneath. 

Satellites will stay on tracking duty since the iceberg could be a threat to ships in the area. History and the Titanic tragedy have taught us just how dangerous icebergs can be.

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