An iceberg the size of Greater London broke off the Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica on Sunday, according to the British Antarctic Survey.
Scientists first discovered significant cracks in the ice shelf a decade ago, but there have been two major breaks in the past two years. The BAS Halley research station is located on the Brunt Ice Shelf and glaciologists say the research station is safe.
The iceberg is about 600 square miles or 1550 square kilometers. The researchers say that this event was expected and was not a result of climate change.
“This calving event was expected and is part of the natural behavior of the Brunt Ice Shelf. It’s not related to climate change. Our science and operations teams continue to monitor the ice shelf in real time to ensure it is safe and to maintain delivery of the science we are conducting at Halley,” said Professor Dominic Hodgson, BAS glaciologist, in a press release.
Calving is taking place amid record-high sea ice extent in Antarctica, where it is summer.
“While the decline in Antarctic sea ice extent is always strong at this time of year, it has been unusually rapid this year,” scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center reported in early January, “and by late December, Antarctic sea ice extent was the lowest in 45 years.” Satellite recording.”
Data center researchers say the low sea ice is partly due to a wide range of above-average air temperatures, which rose to 2 degrees Celsius above average over the Ross Sea in November and December. Strong winds have also accelerated the retreat of sea ice, they reported.
Recent data shows sea ice has not recovered since, suggesting the continent could end the summer with a new record on the books for the second straight year.
Antarctica has experienced a roller coaster of sea ice extent over the past few decades, swinging wildly from record highs to record lows. Unlike the Arctic, where scientists say climate change is accelerating its effects, Antarctica’s sea ice extent is highly variable.
“There’s a connection between what’s going on in Antarctica and the general warming trend in the rest of the world, but it’s different from what we’re seeing in mountain glaciers and in the Arctic,” says Ted Scambos, a glaciologist at the University of Colorado Boulder and senior scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center previously told CNN.
Satellite data dating back to 1978 shows that the region produced record sea ice extent as late as 2014 and 2015. Then it suddenly collapsed in 2016 and has been below average ever since.