Iceberg four times the size of NYC breaks free in Antarctica

May 20, 2021, 5:09 PM UTC
ESA-Largest Iceberg-Square
An enormous iceberg has calved from the western side of the Ronne Ice Shelf, lying in the Weddell Sea, in Antarctica.
Courtesy of ESA

The world’s largest iceberg has broken off of Antarctica and is currently floating in the Weddell sea.

The iceberg, which has been labeled A-76 by the European Space Agency, measures 4,320 square kilometers (1,668 square miles), just shy of the size of Delaware (5,133 sq km) and roughly four times as large as New York City.

The discovery of the calving came from satellite images from the current Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission. The break took five days to occur. And this new berg tops the previous record holder for size, which was 3,880 square kilometers.

In recent years, the rise in global temperatures has sped up the rate of ice loss on Antarctica, causing a growing number of large icebergs to break off. In 2019, a berg that was twice as big as NYC was calved. The prior year, a trillion-ton iceberg which had broken off from the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica began its spin off into the sea.

A recent study in the journal Nature found that if the world stays on its current path to exceed global warming by 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) this century, Antarctica could experience a dramatic increase in melting and ice loss around 2060, which would nearly double its contribution to sea level rise by 2100.

Since the early 1990s, Antarctica has lost roughly three trillion tons of ice.

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