(Photo: YouTube Screen Shot)
An iceberg has broken off of Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier this week, and the iceberg that is larger than the entire city of Chicago is now floating freely in the Amundsen Sea.
The huge iceberg measures about 278 square miles, and according to Live Science, was spotted floating in the wild by TerraSAR-X, an Earth-observing satellite operated by the German Space Agency (DLR).
A crack was discovered in the Pina Island Glacier just last October by NASA scientists, and at that time the fracture was measured at approximately 15 miles in length and 164 feet in width.
Then in just May a second fissure was found near the top of the first one.
Angelika Humbert, a glaciologist at the Alfred Wegener Institute, said in a statement, "As a result of these cracks, one giant iceberg broke away from the glacier tongue."
Humbert has indicated that she and her team have been studying the cracks, and she assured that icebergs breaking and floating away were simply part of a cyclical process.
She said, "Glaciers are constantly in motion. They have their very own flow dynamics. Their ice is exposed to permanent tensions and the calving of icebergs is still largely un-researched."
The Pine Island Glacier last produced huge icebergs in 2007 and 2008, and is known as one of the longest and fastest changing on the West Antarctic Sheet.
The glacier could have a large impact on ecosystems, as it "acts as a plug, holding back part of the immense West Antarctic Ice Sheet whose melting ice contributes to rising sea levels."
Here is a video showing the glacier: