A huge iceberg almost the size of London broke away from the Brunt Ice Shelf in West Antarctica on Sunday (22 January) after several years of rifts.
The shelf calms during the spring tide, which coincides with the regular swell of the ocean. full and new moonaccording to a Statement (opens in new tab) From the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), which reported the iceberg’s separation from the shelf.
Since the breakup of the iceberg, several satellites have flown over the region, taking pictures of the now-orphaned triangular iceberg. BAS, which operates the Halley Research Station on the Brunt Ice Shelf, estimated the size of the calm iceberg to be 600 square miles (1,550 square kilometers). It is about the size of the London metropolitan area and slightly larger than Houston.
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statement is not related Climate change, BAS said in a statement, and was caused by “natural processes” that have been going on for more than 10 years. The iceberg broke off along a crack known as Chasm-1, which has been monitored by BAS scientists since 2012. The gradual widening of Chasm-1 actually prompted BAS to move the Halley research station 14 miles (23 km) inland in 2016. The outpost has not been affected by the calf, Bas said.
“Our glaciologists and operations team are anticipating this event,” BAS director Jane Francis said in the statement.
That said, the Moon may have pushed new icebergs on its way because the split occurred during the so-called spring tides, the “tidal spring” that occurs around new and full Moons as a result of the Moon’s gravity. pull, according to US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (opens in new tab), Despite the name, these events have nothing to do with springtime!
BAS said in the statement that Sunday’s calving is the second such event to affect the Brunt Ice Shelf in the past two years. The BAS monitors the area using data from Earth-observation satellites, as well as an automated network of high-precision GPS sensors located around the station.
“This calving event has been expected and is part of the natural behavior of the Brunt Ice Shelf,” BAS glaciologist Dominic Hodgson said in the statement. “This is not linked to climate change. Our science and operations teams will continue to monitor the ice shelf in real time to ensure it is safe, and to maintain delivery of the science we do at Halley.” Is.”
Since 2017, the Halley Research Station, which played a key role in the discovery and research of the ozone hole in the 1980s, is only inhabited during the Antarctic summer between November and March each year. BAS said the current team of 21 researchers and staff will remain at the station until February 6.
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The 500-foot-thick (150 m) Brunt Ice Shelf is a floating sheet of ice that moves westward into the Weddell Sea at a rate of 1.2 miles (2 km) per year. Thanks to the work of BAS, the shelf is one of the most widely monitored ice shelves earth, Observations on site and from satellites revealed in December that Chasm-1 had propagated through the entire ice shelf and was pending calving.
The BAS expects that the Antarctic Coastal Current will now drive the new iceberg westwards. The iceberg will soon be given a name by the US National Ice Center while glaciologists follow its movement.
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