An iceberg bigger than New York City has broken off near a UK base in Antarctica, the Brunt Ice Shelf, as an airplane flies over the North Rift crack.
The 1270 square kilometres chunk of ice is bigger than New York and broke free in a process of calving, according to a statement from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS). This has been expected for years due to the forming of vast cracks in the 150-meter-thick floating ice shelf.
The North Rift started moving toward another large crack in November, and great a kilometre a day in January. The crack widened to several hundred metres on Friday, breaking off.
Full story: https://t.co/l13QrWdnB0
— British Antarctic Survey (@BAS_News) February 26, 2021
BAS Director Jane Francis shared, ‘Our teams at BAS have been prepared for the calving of an iceberg from Brunt Ice Shelf for years…All the data are sent back to Cambridge for analysis, so we know what’s happening even in the Antarctic winter, when there are no staff on the station, it’s pitch black, and the temperature falls below minus 50 degrees C (or -58F)’.
The BAS moved the Halley Research Station inland in 2016 as a precaution and staff have only worked there during the Antarctic summer since 2017.BAS Director of Operations Simon Garrod shared, ‘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.’
New calving front time-lapse captures yesterday's 1270 km² calving event along the #NorthRift chasm on Brunt Ice Shelf 🇦🇶 (2009-2021). @ESA_EO @UniversityLeeds @EoCdt @BBCAmos pic.twitter.com/nxj7C8g8Yt
— Julia Andreasen (@JuliaAndreasen) February 27, 2021
An even bigger iceberg also broke away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in 2017 and floated into the open ocean late last year. according to the BAS, ‘Change in the ice at Halley is a natural process and there is no connection to the calving events seen on Larsen C Ice Shelf, and no evidence that climate change has played a significant role’.
Naturally, scientists are now keeping a close eye on the iceberg.