Trillion tonne iceberg breaks from Antarctica
A giant iceberg, more than 20 times the size of Manhattan, just split off from Antarctica’s Brunt Ice Shelf. This dramatic breakup comes after a major crack formed on the shelf in November 2020 and continued to grow until the ‘berg finally broke off Friday morning.
The iceberg is called A-74, covers about 490 square miles (1,270 square kilometers), making it 1.5 times bigger than Greater Paris. For years, glaciologists have monitored the cracks that have formed in the Brunt Ice Shelf, a large floating slab of ice 492 feet (150 meters) thick located on Antarctica’s northern rim and the site of the British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) Halley Research Station.
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,” BAS director Jane Francis said in a statement. The British Antarctic Survey’s Halley Research Station is on the Brunt Ice Shelf. Glaciologists said the research station is unlikely to be affected by the calving event, which is what the breaking process is called.
Each year, 10,000 to 15,000 icebergs are calved worldwide, most of them on the small side, according to Canadian Geographic. The largest iceberg recorded calved off Antarctica in 2000: That one was about as big as the island of Jamaica.