Iceberg breaks off Amery ice shelf

  • D-28 pictured in the 2000s. NASA
Date:2 October 2019 Author: Lucinda Dordley Tags:, ,

A massive iceberg has broken off the Amery ice shelf in Antartica’s east. The iceberg has been compared to the city of Sydney, Australia as well as the south of London for its sheer size.

Officially named D-28, the floating chunk broke off from the ice shelf on September 26 and is over 1 636 square kilometres.

D-28 pictured in the 2000s. NASA

An ice shelf is a platform of floating ice which forms where the Antartic’s ice sheets makes contact with the ocean. The Amery ice shelf is estimated to have a surface area of over 60 000 square kilometres, and only penetrates water at 550 kilometres.

The first major Amery calving, when ice breaks off the edge of a glacier, was reported to have taken place between 1963 and 1964 – as there are conflicting reports on the exact year it took place – and at the time, scientists dismissed that it had anything to do with climate change.

The calving occurred next to a location known as the ‘loose tooth’ that scientists had been watching because the ice appeared to be precariously attached for more than two decades now.

Scientists from the Australian Antarctic program, the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies and Scripps Institution of Oceanography have been monitoring the site since the loose tooth first developed.

The Amery ice shelf is the third-largest in Antarctica and is located between Australia’s Davis and Mawson research stations. Researchers have been studying the ice shelf since the 1960s and currently have instruments on the ice that are measuring the impact of ocean melt and ice flow.

According to the BBC, the iceberg will have to be monitored and tracked as it may pose a hazard to shipping in the future.

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