An iceberg has broken off from the Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica, and satellites have captured the views of the massive piece.
The signs that an iceberg was just about ready to break off came in February 2019, according to NASA Earth Observatory. Late on Sunday, after years of wondering and waiting, the break finally happened, creating an iceberg of 1,550 square kilometers in size (660 square miles).
To put that into perspective, that’s reportedly about the size of Greater London or twice the size of New York City.
The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) confirmed the break-off in a statement Monday, noting that this was already the second such major calving event in the area in the past two years.
In an image shared by NASA Earth Observatory, one can see the iceberg — now dubbed A-81 by the U.S. National Ice Center — clearly separated from the Brunt Ice Shelf.
The image was captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument on NASA’s Terra satellite Tuesday.
The Suomi/NPP satellite operated by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) also captured a view of the calving event Monday.
And so did the Sentinel-3 satellite.
Iceberg calving events such as the one that happened Sunday are a part of a “natural, cyclical process” on ice sheets, NASA Earth observatory explained.
“This calving event has been expected and is part of the natural behavior of the Brunt Ice Shelf,” glaciologist Dominic Hodgson said in the BAS release. “It is not linked to climate change.”
The ice shelf is actually the location of the BAS’ Halley Research Station, where scientists study space weather and atmospheric processes. It was relocated in 2016 as the chasm along which the break occurred widened and was reportedly not affected by Sunday’s iceberg break-off.
The Halley station would have been in a “very dangerous position” if it wasn’t moved, according to BBC News.
Now, experts will be monitoring the movement of the new iceberg, which the BAS believes will follow the path of iceberg A-74 that broke off in February 2021. They will also continue keeping a close watch on the Brunt Ice Shelf. A fissure scientists are keeping an eye on is the “Halloween crack,” which was detected in October 2016.
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