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Antarctica: a huge iceberg breaks away from the pack ice


The block of ice, measuring 1,550 square kilometres, broke off during a high tide that enlarged an existing crack in the ice.

A huge iceberg more than 15 times the size of Paris broke away from Antarctica on Sunday, British scientists said on Monday. This phenomenon is not due to climate change, although the region is threatened by global warming, according to the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).

The block of ice, which is 1,550 square kilometers, broke away from the pack ice on Sunday between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. during a high amplitude tide which enlarged an existing crack in the ice, dubbed Chasm-1, detailed this organization of research on the polar zones, in a press release.

An expected detachment

Two years ago, an iceberg of an almost identical size had already formed in the same area, called the Brunt Barrier, and on which the British research station Halley VI is located. The glaciologists, present on site from November to March, have been observing the progression of vast cracks in the ice for ten years.

In 2016, the BAS had decided to move this station about twenty kilometers, fearing that it would find itself on a drifting iceberg following the melting of the ice. “This detachment was expected and is a natural behavior of Brunt’s barrier. It is not related to climate change“, explained glaciologist Dominic Hodgson, quoted in the press release.

However, the continent is suffering the pangs of global warming, with record temperatures recorded last year, as elsewhere on the planet. The extent of the ice there reached in February 2022 the minimum ever recorded in 44 years of satellite observations, recently indicated the annual report of the European program on climate change Copernicus.

In 2021, the complete melting of an iceberg, 4000 km north of where it broke off from the pack ice in 2017, released more than 150 billion tonnes of fresh water mixed with nutrients, worrying scientists the impact of the phenomenon on a fragile ecosystem.

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