Giant iceberg breaks off the Brunt Ice Shelf •

Giant iceberg breaks off the Brunt Ice Shelf


Today’s Video of the Day from the European Space Agency reveals an enormous iceberg that has broken off the Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica. The iceberg is about five times the size of Malta.

“The new berg, estimated to be around 1550 sq km and around 150 m thick, calved when the crack known as Chasm-1 fully extended northwards severing the west part of the ice shelf,” says ESA.

“This crack was first revealed to be extending in early 2012 after having been dormant for some decades. After several years of desperately clinging on, image data from the Copernicus Sentinel missions visually confirm the calving event.”

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) was the first to report the split, which occurred on January 22. According to ESA, the new iceberg is anticipated to be named A-81 with the smaller piece to the north likely identified as either A-81A or A-82. 

“After several years of iceberg calving watch, the long-awaited separation of the Brunt iceberg A-81 has finally taken place. The northward propagation of Chasm 1 and timely decision for BAS to move the Halley Base to safer ground have been accompanied by what has been perhaps the most detailed and longest duration scrutiny of events leading to natural calving from an Antarctic ice shelf,” says ESA’s Mark Drinkwater.

“Thanks to Copernicus, coupled with in-situ and airborne measurements made by the British Antarctic Survey, the safety of the Halley Base has been preserved. Meanwhile the combination of summer images from Sentinel-2 and availability of year-round and winter monitoring by Sentinel-1 radar placed the pattern of strain and propagation of an ice shelf fracture under the worldwide public microscope.”

Video/ Image Credit: ESA

By Chrissy Sexton, Editor

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