Iceberg nearly Greater London's size splits from Antarctic ice shelf

The iceberg, measuring 1,270 sq km, broke off from the 150m-thick Brunt Ice Shelf in a process called "calving". This came almost a decade after scientists first saw that massive cracks had formed in the shelf. PHOTO: BRITISH ANTARCTIC SURVEY/YOUTUBE
The iceberg, measuring 1,270 sq km, broke off from the 150m-thick Brunt Ice Shelf in a process called "calving". This came almost a decade after scientists first saw that massive cracks had formed in the shelf. PHOTO: BRITISH ANTARCTIC SURVEY/YOUTUBE

LONDON • A vast iceberg almost the size of Greater London has broken away from the Antarctic ice shelf near a British research station, said the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).

The research body said on Friday that the iceberg measuring 1,270 sq km had broken off from the 150m-thick Brunt Ice Shelf in a process called "calving".

This came almost a decade after scientists first saw that massive cracks had formed in the shelf.

A crack in the ice widened by several hundred metres on Friday morning before the iceberg broke off completely.

Britain's Halley VI Research Station monitors the state of the vast floating ice shelf daily.

"Our teams at BAS have been prepared for the calving of an iceberg from Brunt Ice Shelf for years," said BAS director Jane Francis.

The mobile research base relocated inland for safety reasons in 2016 and 2017 as cracks in the ice threatened to cut it off.

The glaciologists said the latest event is unlikely to affect the station's current location.

The base's 12-person team left earlier this month, as they leave the base uninhabited in winter due to unpredictable conditions.

While they are away, data from GPS instruments at the site goes to a centre in Cambridge for analysis.

Icebergs naturally break off from Antarctica into the ocean in a process accelerated by climate change.

The BAS, a world leader in environmental research in the region, said that in this case, there is "no evidence that climate change has played a significant role".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 28, 2021, with the headline 'Iceberg nearly Greater London's size splits from Antarctic ice shelf'. Subscribe