600 square miles of iceberg, roughly the size of two New York cities, breaks through Antarctica’s ice shelf

A major change has occurred in one of the planet’s most observed ice shelves. On Sunday, a massive chunk of Antarctica’s Brunt Ice Shelf broke loose — a chunk the size of two New York cities.

the British Antarctic Survey He said Monday that the iceberg is 1,550 square kilometers, or just under 600 square miles.

This is the second major breakup of the ice shelf, known as a calving, in two years, although scientists had long predicted this would happen. According to the British Antarctic Survey, cracks have developed naturally across the entire ice shelf for a decade.

The Brunt Ice Shelf is located across the Weddell Sea from another ice shelf site that has made headlines, the Larsen C Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula. last year , Ice shelf Larsen C – which was about the size of New York City and had long been considered stable – collapsed into the sea.

This was the first time in human history that such a collapse had been witnessed in Antarctica. It happened after atmospheric river It brought unusually warm air to the region, and many have pointed to climate change as a possible factor.

This map of Antarctica shows the location of the various Antarctic ice shelves.

Agnieszka Gautier, National Ice and Snow Data Center

But according to BAS glaciologist Dominic Hodgson BAS, the recent break-up of the Brent icebergs is “not linked to climate change”.

“This calving event was expected and is part of the normal behavior of the Brent Ice Shelf,” Dodgson said.

A major crack in Brunt’s shelf, known as the Gap, has been dormant for decades, but in 2012, scientists detected a major change. It was growing continuously starting in 2015, and by December of last year, researchers said it had “stretched across the entire ice shelf.”

This is the second time in two years that an iceberg has descended from the ice shelf.

The last one, known as A74, formed in February 2021 – not even 5 years after a new crack known as Halloween Crack formed. It is slightly smaller than the most recent detachment, and has since drifted far into the Weddell Sea.

The newest iceberg will be named by the US National Ice Center. Researchers believe it likely followed the A74 route into the sea.

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