Antarctic ice shelf produces 315 billion tonne iceberg - ‘biggest in 50 years’

Rob Waugh
Contributor

A huge ice block has crumbled off the Amery Ice Shelf in Antarctica, in a calving event scientists say is the biggest in 50 years.

The block - called D28 - is 631 square miles, slightly smaller than the Isle of Skye, the BBC reports.

The iceberg will have to be monitored in case it poses a danger to shipping after it crumbled from the Amery ice shelf.

The event is not thought to be related to climate change, but instead allows the Amery ice shelf (Antarctica’s third-largest) to maintain its balance.

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Scientists have expected D28 to calve from the ice shelf for years.

Professor Helen Fricker, from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, told the BBC, ‘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.

‘While there is much to be concerned about in Antarctica, there is no cause for alarm yet for this particular ice shelf.’

Earlier this year, scientists revealed that another huge Antarctic ice shelf the size of France, the Ross Ice Shelf, is melting 10 times faster than expected.

Loss of ice shelves removes a barrier to glaciers transporting water to the ocean, allowing sea levels to rise.

A team from Cambridge University spent several years investigating how the Ross Ice Shelf's north-west sector interacted with the ocean beneath it.

The researchers say that surface water heated by the sun appears to be accelerating the melting of the Ross Ice Shelf, a huge slab of ice which juts into the ocean.

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