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Iceberg Bigger Than New York City Breaks Off In Antarctica

by : Julia Banim on : 01 Mar 2021 08:54
Iceberg Bigger Than New York City Breaks Off In AntarcticaBritish Antarctic Survey/YouTube

An iceberg bigger than New York City has broken off from the 150-m thick Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica, nearly a decade after British Antarctic Survey (BAS) scientists first spotted the enormous cracks had grown in the ice.

The Brunt Ice Shelf, which, at (1,270 km²) is the size of the county of Bedfordshire, is where the British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) Halley Research Station is based, and is thought to be the most closely monitored ice shelf on Earth.

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The 12-person BAS team left the station back in mid-February, and it is now shut up for the duration of the freezing Antarctic winter.

You can check out more about the Brunt Ice Shelf for yourself below:

BAS Scientists first became aware that a calving event was imminent back in November 2020 when they noticed a new chasm – named North Rift – headed towards another big chasm close to the Stancomb-Wills Glacier Tongue some 35 km away.

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Over the course of January, this rift pushed northeast at up to 1 km each day, cutting through the floating ice shelf.

The iceberg was formed after the crack widened by several hundred metres in the space of a few hours on the morning of February 26, when it was released from the rest of the ice shelf.

Professor Dame Jane Francis, BAS Director said:

Over coming weeks or months, the iceberg may move away; or it could run aground and remain close to Brunt Ice Shelf. Halley Station is located inland of all the active chasms, on the part of the ice shelf that remains connected to the continent.

Our network of GPS instruments will give us early warning if the calving of this iceberg causes changes in the ice around our station.

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Ice riftBritish Antarctic Survey (BAS)

Going forward, Simon Garrod, Director of Operations at BAS stated that the team will ‘continuously review’ their contingency plans ‘to ensure the safety of our staff, protect our research station, and maintain the delivery of the science we undertake at Halley’.

Garrod said:

This is a dynamic situation. Four years ago we moved Halley Research Station inland to ensure that it would not be carried away when an iceberg eventually formed. That was a wise decision.

Our job now is to keep a close eye on the situation and assess any potential impact of the present calving on the remaining ice shelf.

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As per BAS, changes in the ice at Halley is understood to be ‘a natural process’ with ‘no connection to the calving events seen on Larsen C Ice Shelf, and no evidence that climate change has played a significant role’.

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: News, Antarctica, new york city

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British Antarctic Survey
  1. British Antarctic Survey

    Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica calves