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Antarctica: a giant iceberg breaks free from an ice barrier

The iceberg is the size of Greater London.
The iceberg is the size of Greater London. (©EPA/MAXPPP)

It is a huge iceberg that has broken away from the Brunt Ice Shelf, northwest of Antarctica. It is the size of greater London, or 1550 km². About 15 times the size of Paris over 150 meters thick.

This event, which occurred on Sunday January 22 between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. (8 p.m. and 9 p.m. in France, editor’s note), was expected and was not unrelated to global warming.

“The iceberg has calved”

In a communicated published Monday, January 23, the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), the British organization in charge of research in Antarctica, explains that “the iceberg calved when the crack known as the Chasm-1 completely extended through the pack ice” while a high tide was in progress.

Calving is when blocks of ice break off from an ice barrier to end up in the water and thus form icebergs.

The Chasm-1 fissure had continued to grow in recent years, prompting BAS scientists to redeploy their lab further out on the ice floe.

The rupture is the second major calving in this area in the past two years and came a decade after BAS scientists first detected the growth of large cracks in the ice.

British Antarctic Survey press release

Not related to global warming

If the melting of the ice is directly linked to the global warmingthe detachment of this iceberg is not, according to the BAS.

Read also on planet news

“This calving event was expected and is part of the natural behavior of the Barrière de Brunt. It is not linked to climate change,” said Professor Dominic Hodgson, glaciologist at BAS.

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Researchers make daily measurements of the sea ice using GPS instruments. They are therefore able to predict the deformation and movement of the ice.

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