In 1995 the northernmost section of ice, known as Larsen A, disintegrated. But because conditions were so tough, it would be half a decade before scientists could properly investigate. Then, in 2002 later Larsen B, the next section of ice shelf, also began to break off into the Weddell Sea.
This time, the shift was even more dramatic. Beginning on January 31, 2002, some 1,250 square miles of ice broke off from the main shelf. For perspective, this is an area approximately the size of Rhode Island, with a depth of some 720 feet. Twelve years later, scientists were finally able to study the site of this catastrophic event close up.