Go With the Floe

A 90-by-30-mile iceberg secedes from Antarctica. Is is just us, or is it getting warmer in here?

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The Antarctic's new breakaway republic -- a 2,751-square-mile slab of ice that detached from the Ronne Ice Shelf, in the southern Weddell Sea -- was announced by the National Ice Center on Thursday. Experts consider the ice on Antarctica to be quite stable, but the iceberg -- the largest recorded since 1987 -- should serve as a big reminder that global warming is still an issue with potential consequences far beyond the thermometer, says TIME science editor Philip Elmer-Dewitt.

"We know that global temperatures are up, and one of the things people worry about with global warming is that the icecaps could melt enough to put New York, for example, under water," says Elmer-Dewitt. Instead of being a patch of warm weather, it's a matter of a change in climate, and as Elmer-Dewitt says, "In the dispute over the effects of burning hydrocarbons, there's nothing like an iceberg the size of Delaware to get the world's attention."