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Largest Iceberg in 50 Years Breaks Off Antarctic Ice Shelf

The Amery Ice Shelf in Antarctica has just produced its biggest iceberg in more than 50 years.

The iceberg, named D28, covers around 1600 square kilometres and is estimated to weigh 315 billion tonnes.

It’s so large that it’s likely to take several years to disintegrate and melt. In the meantime, it will need to be monitored and tracked in case it becomes a hazard to shipping.

A more than 600-square-mile iceberg broke off Antarctica in recent days, but the event is part of a normal cycle and is not related to climate change, scientists say.

Scientists say that climate change was not a factor in the iceberg leaving Antarctica. Prof Fricker said that the “calving event is part of a healthy ice shelf cycle”.

Not since the early 1960s has Amery calved a bigger iceberg. That was a whopping 9,000 sq km in area.

Amery is the third largest ice shelf in Antarctica, and is a key drainage channel for the east of the continent.

The shelf is essentially the floating extension of a number of glaciers that flow off the land into the sea.

The Scripps researcher stressed that there was no link between this event and climate change. Satellite data since the 1990s has shown that Amery is roughly in balance with its surroundings, despite experiencing strong surface melt in summer.

“Ice shelves have to lose mass because they gain mass. They want to stay the same size,” said Fricker, a professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California.

 

 

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