An iceberg nearly 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 last 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 1,550 square kilometers. The researchers say this event was expected and not a result of climate change.
“This calving event was expected and is part of the natural behavior of the Brunt Ice Shelf. It is not related to climate change. Our science and operational teams continue to monitor the ice shelf in real time to ensure it is safe and to maintain the delivery of the science we carry out at Halley,” Professor Dominic Hodgson, a BAS glaciologist, said in a press release.
The calving occurs amid a record extent of sea ice in Antarctica, where it is summer.
“While the decline in Antarctic sea ice extent is always pronounced at this time of year, it has been unusually rapid this year,” the National Snow and Ice Data Center scientists said. reported in early January“And by the end of December, the extent of Antarctic sea ice was at the lowest level in the 45-year satellite record.”
The data center researchers say the low amount of sea ice is due in part to a large band of warmer-than-normal air temperatures, which rose to 2 degrees Celsius above average over the Ross Sea in November and December. Strong winds have also accelerated the decline in sea ice, they reported.
Recent data shows that sea ice has not recovered since then, suggesting that the continent could end the summer with a new record on the books. the second year in a row.
Antarctica has experienced a roller coaster of sea ice extent over the past two decades, swinging wildly from record highs to record lows. Unlike the Arctic, where scientists say climate change is accelerating its impacts, Antarctic sea ice extent is highly variable.
“There is a link between what’s happening in Antarctica and the general warming trend in the rest of the world, but it’s different from what we see in mountain glaciers and what we see in the Arctic,” said Ted Scambos, a glaciologist at the University of Colorado Boulder and lead scientist for the National Snow and Ice Data Center, previously told CNN.
Satellite data going back to 1978 shows that the region was still producing a record extent of sea ice in 2014 and 2015. Then it plunged suddenly in 2016 and has remained below average ever since.
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