- At 490 square miles, the iceberg is bigger than the size of New York City, which is 302 square miles.
- The last major chunk to have come off in this area was in the early 1970s.
- There is no evidence that climate change played a significant role in this event.
A massive iceberg has broken off of Antarctica’s Brunt Ice Shelf, British researchers announced. –
At 490 square miles, the berg is bigger than the size of New York City, which is 302 square miles.
A crack in the ice shelf widened several hundred meters on Friday just before the iceberg sheared off. The last major chunk to have come off in this area was in the early 1970s, the BBC said.
However, the event wasn’t a surprise: “Our teams at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) have been prepared for the calving of an iceberg from Brunt Ice Shelf for years,” said BAS director Jane Francis in a statement.
More:Massive iceberg nearly the size of Delaware breaks off Antarctica
The Brunt Ice Shelf is where the British Antarctic Survey’s Halley Research Station is located. Glaciologists said the research station is unlikely to be affected by the current calving event, which is what the breaking process is called.
The 12-person team working at the station left in mid-February and the station is now closed for the Antarctic winter.
“This is a dynamic situation,” said Simon Garrod, director of operations at the British Antarctic Survey, in a statement. “Four years ago we moved Halley Research Station inland to ensure that it would not be carried away when an iceberg eventually formed. That was a wise decision. Our job now is to keep a close eye on the situation and assess any potential impact of the present calving on the remaining ice shelf.”
Ice shelves are permanent floating sheets of ice connected to a landmass, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Since the ice is already floating, the newly created iceberg won’t contribute to rising sea levels.
The glaciological structure of this vast floating ice shelf is complex, the British Antarctic Survey said, and the impact of calving events is unpredictable.
In addition, there is no evidence that climate change played a significant role in this event, the BAS said. Calving is an entirely natural process wherever ice flowing on the land meets the ocean or large lakes.
Between 10,000 to 15,000 icebergs are calved each year worldwide, most of them on the small side, according to Canadian Geographic. The largest iceberg ever recorded was one that calved off Antarctica in 2000: That one was about as big as the island of Jamaica.
As for what’s going to happen to this iceberg, Francis said that “over the coming weeks or months, the iceberg may move away; or it could run aground and remain close to Brunt Ice Shelf.”
While undoubtedly huge, this iceberg is still dwarfed by the famed chunk of ice that broke off from Antarctica’s Larsen C Ice Shelf in 2017, which recently threatened to collide with South Georgia Island and is among the largest ever recorded at 2,240 square miles, Gizmodo said.
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