Massive Iceberg Breaks Off from Antarctica’s Brunt Ice Shelf


An iceberg larger than Las Vegas has broken off from Antarctica’s Brunt Ice Shelf.

This huge 380 square-kilometer (147 square-mile) piece of ice separated from the shelf on the morning of May 20.

The break started from a crack that appeared a few weeks ago and grew into a 14-kilometer (8.7-mile) chasm.

Naming the New Iceberg

This new iceberg, named A-83, formed at a right angle to another crack called Halloween Crack, which was discovered on October 31, 2016.

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS), which has been keeping an eye on the break, asked the public for a more exciting name on social media, suggesting “Icy McBergFace A-83” as a fun option.

Recent History of Iceberg Calvings

A-83 is the third large iceberg to break off the Brunt Ice Shelf in the last four years.

An iceberg the size of Greater London broke off in January last year, and another nearly the size of Los Angeles broke off two years before that.

Relocation of the Halley Research Station

The BAS had already moved the Halley Research Station, previously located near the break, because another large crack, Chasm-1, started widening unexpectedly.

Impact of Climate Change

Although climate change can affect ice shelves, scientists say these breaks are not linked to it.

However, the breaks might impact the local environment.

Expert Opinions on the Calving Event

Dr. Oliver Marsh, a BAS glaciologist, explained that the calving of A-83 was expected since the Halloween Crack appeared eight years ago.

This break has reduced the ice shelf to its smallest size since monitoring began.

Professor Adrian Luckman from Swansea University noted that while iceberg calving is a natural process, the recent frequency of large breaks is concerning.

Ice shelves grow gradually and shrink episodically by calving, and the balance between these processes affects their ability to hold back ice on land.

Even in the cold sector of Antarctica, three large iceberg calvings in the last 3-4 years are worrying.

Future Research and Predictions

Despite these concerns, scientists hope that data from the Brunt Ice Shelf will help them understand the calving process better and improve their ability to predict future changes in ice shelves.