Amazing Environment Science Top Stories World

315 billion-tonne iceberg breaks off Antarctica

AMERY, Antarctica: An iceberg, the size of urban Sydney, has broken off an ice shelf in Antarctica.

The Amery Ice Shelf, the third largest ice shelf in Antarctica, has just given away its biggest iceberg to the Indian Ocean in 50 years.

The calved block, named D28 by the US National Ice Center, covers 1,636 sq km. It is about 210 metres thick and contains almost 315 billion tonnes of ice.

The classification system run by the Center divides the Antarctic into quadrants wherein the D quadrant covers the longitudes 90 degrees east to zero degrees.

The cracks had begun forming around two decades ago and were growing at least three to five metres a day, finally chipping away the berg from the shelf completely.

Amery is essentially the floating extension of a number of glaciers that flow off the land into the sea.

Bergs are lost to the ocean to maintain equilibrium and input balance of the snow upstream.

In 2002, Professor Helen Fricker from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography had predicted the break off to occur between 2010 and 2015.

“I am excited to see this calving event after all these years. We knew it would happen eventually, but just to keep us all on our toes, it is not exactly where we expected it to be,” she said.

However, the researcher stressed, “There is no link between this event and climate change.”

“While there is much to be concerned about in Antarctica, there is no cause for alarm yet for this particular ice shelf,” she added.

The Australian Antarctic Division will be watching Amery up close to see if it reacts at all. The division’s scientists have instrumentation in the region.