315 Billion-tonne Iceberg the Size of Los Angeles Broke Off Antarctica


A gigantic iceberg has broken off from the Amery Ice Shelf in East Antarctica. The iceberg, named D-28, is over 600 square miles in area, which is bigger than the city of Los Angeles. It's equal to about 27 Manhattan Islands. The berg separated from the ice shelf last week, on Sept. 26, next to another wobbly chunk of ice called the “Loose Tooth," because it appeared to be precariously attached.

315 billion-tonne iceberg just broke off of Antarctica (1,636 sq km in area)
“We first noticed a rift at the front of the ice shelf in the early 2000s and predicted a large iceberg would break off between 2010-15,” said Scripps’ Institute of Oceanography professor Helen Amanda Fricker in a statement released by the Australian Arctic Division. “I am excited to see this calving event after all these years," she said. "We knew it would happen eventually, but just to keep us all on our toes, it is not exactly where we expected it to be.”

The last major calving event on the Amery was in 1963-64. 

“We don’t think this event is linked to climate change. It’s part of the ice shelf’s normal cycle, where we see major calving events every 60-70 years,” Fricker added.

A roughly 600-square-mile iceberg named D-28 has broken off of Antarctica's Amery Ice Shelf.
A roughly 600-square-mile iceberg named D-28 has broken off of Antarctica's Amery Ice Shelf. (Photo: Polarview/ESA SENTINEL-1/Alex Fraser/Susheel Adusumilli)

Ben Galton-Fenzi, a glaciologist with the Australian Antarctic Program, said scientists picked up last week’s calving event by looking at satellite imagery.

“The calving will not directly affect sea level because the ice shelf was already floating, much like an ice cube in a glass of water,” Galton-Fenzi said. “But what will be interesting to see is how the loss of this ice will influence the ocean melting under the remaining ice shelf and the speed at which the ice flows off the continent.”

The new iceberg – which is about 689 feet thick and weighs some 315 billion tons – will now be tracked because it poses a potential hazard for shipping, CNN said. It's likely to take several years for it to break apart and melt completely, the BBC reported.

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