A 1 trillion ton iceberg, one of the largest icebergs in recorded history, has broken away from western Antarctica, according to a UK-based research team.
Experts said the separation of a 2,239 square miles section of the Larsen C Ice Shelf, the fourth largest shelf in Antarctica, was confirmed to have broken away between Monday and Wednesday by NASA’s Aqua MODIS satellite.
“We have been anticipating this event for months, and have been surprised how long it took for the rift to break through the final few kilometers of ice,” Professor Adrian Luckman of Swansea University, lead investigator of the MIDAS project said in a statement.
“It may remain in one piece but is more likely to break into fragments. Some of the ice may remain in the area for decades, while parts of the iceberg may drift north into warmer waters.”
Scientists believe the iceberg, which is likely to be named A68, is more than three times the size of the greater London area and has a volume twice that of Lake Erie in North America.
— NOAA Satellites (@NOAASatellites) July 12, 2017
‘A68’ is about half the size of the largest iceberg ever recorded: B15, which calved off Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf in March 2000. B15 had an area of 11,007 square kilometers (4,250 square miles) and was about the size of the state of Connecticut or the island of Jamaica.
“We will continue to monitor both the impact of this calving event on the Larsen C Ice Shelf and the fate of this huge iceberg.”
To give a sense of the true dimensions of the Larsen C iceberg, here's an animation based on real data, with something familiar for scale pic.twitter.com/OdQA07qhBb
— Adrian Luckman (@adrian_luckman) July 12, 2017