The Biggest Iceberg in the World Just Split from Antarctica

Peyton Feldman, Writer

Peyton Feldman 

5/23/2021 

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A giant slab of ice almost half the size of Puerto Rico broke of Antartica’s Ronne Ice Shelf and flowed out into the Weddel Sea by the process of calving. It’s the world largest according to the European Space Agency (ESA). The ESA said on Wednesday that the “Newly-calved iceberg A-76 was captured by satellites by the Copernicus Sentinel-1 Mission” 

Iceberg A-76’s surface area is 1.668 square miles, 15 miles wide, measuring 106 miles long. The New York Times reported it was “larger than A23a an iceberg that formed in 1986 and had a total area of more than 1,500 square miles (4,000 square kilometers) in January”. Apparently, the icebergs departure from the Ronne Shelf was unrelated to climate change and a part of Shelfs normal lifespan. 

The Iceberg A-76 won’t contribute to the rising of sea levels since the volume it displaces in the ocean as solid ice is equal to it when it melts to a liquid. Although this is the case it has brought wider attention to ice loss both in Antarctica and Greenland, said glaciologist and explorer with the National Geographic Society M Jackson. 

Any Antarctic Iceberg at least 10 nautical miles long and 20 square nautical miles large are tracked and named by The National Ice Center. This ice center is operated by the Navy, the Coast Guard, and The National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration. So far they’ve currently tracking 42 named icebergs. 

Iceberg A68a (100 miles long and 30 miles wide) was a potential threat in November of 2017 according to the New York Times “when it appeared to be on a collision course with the British Island Territory of South Georgia”. If Iceberg A-76’s current goes a similar route as A68a it can interfere with shipping lanes in the Antarctic Peninsula in a couple of months Christopher Readinger, The Ice Center’s Antarctica Team Lead. 

Sources 

Iceberg Splits From Antarctica, Becoming World’s Largest – The New York Times (nytimes.com) 

The largest iceberg in the world just broke off from Antarctica – CBS News