A few days ago, a massive iceberg broke off the East Antarctica’s Amery ice shelf.
It covers about 1,636 square kilometers, which is three times the size of Malta, and its weight is over 315 billion tones. The iceberg is named D28. It comes from a classification system run by the US National Ice Center. This is the first major break from the Amery ice shelf since 1963.
How did that happen?
The separation was detected using satellite imagery. The area was under the close monitoring of scientists from the Australian Antarctic Program, the University of Tasmania’s Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies, and the University of California San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography. They were observing the Amery ice shelf for over two decades. In fact, they predicted the breakage is going to happen, but they weren’t sure exactly when. However, it caught them by surprise because they thought that it was going to occur on a different location.
A 1600 km² iceberg broke off Amery Ice Shelf, as seen in @CopernicusEU Sentinel-1 radar images. This part, coined the “Loose Tooth” by @helenafricker and colleagues, has been hanging by a thread since 2002 (https://t.co/IUhXDCWOFF) and finally gave way last week.@sentinel_hub pic.twitter.com/GG60Sk52GB
— Bert Wouters (@bert_polar) September 30, 2019
What should we expect?
Although the massive 315 billion-tonne D28 broke off, it wasn’t directly linked to climate change.
However, they support the idea that global warming can cause other similar breakages.
The gigantic iceberg is now floating in water between two of the Australian Antarctic bases. Currently, it doesn’t appear to be dangerous, but it could be in the future. The presence of an iceberg with this size in the ocean can increase the forming of sea ice and make it difficult for icebreakers to get through. Furthermore, the Australian Antarctic Division will continue monitoring D28 to ensure it doesn’t present a threat and to follow its effect on the environment.