An iceberg the size of Greater London broke away from the Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica on Sunday, according to the British Antarctic Survey.
Scientists first discovered major cracks in the sea ice a decade ago, but in the past two years there have been two major ruptures. 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 the 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 operations teams continue to monitor the sea ice in real time to ensure it is safe and to maintain the science delivery we are undertaking at Halley,” BAS glaciologist Professor Dominic Hodgson said in a statement. Press release.
The calving comes amid a record stretch of sea ice in Antarctica, where it is summer.
“Although the decrease in Antarctic sea ice extent is always steep at this time of year, it has been unusually rapid this year,” scientists from the National Snow and Ice Data Center reported in early January. , “and in late December, Antarctica sea ice extent was at the lowest of the 45-year satellite record.
Data center researchers say the low sea ice is partly due to a wide swath of warmer-than-normal air temperatures, which soared to 2 degrees Celsius above average over the Ross Sea in November and December. Strong winds also accelerated the decline of sea ice, they reported.
Recent data shows the sea ice has not recovered since, suggesting the continent could end the summer with a new record high in the books for the second year in a row.
Antarctica has seen a rollercoaster of sea ice extent over the past two decades, swinging wildly between record highs and record lows. Unlike the Arctic, where scientists say climate change is accelerating its effects, the extent of Antarctic sea ice is highly variable.
“There is a connection between what is happening in Antarctica and the general warming trend in the rest of the world, but it is different from what we see in mountain glaciers and what we see in the Arctic. “, said Ted Scambos, 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 the region was still producing record sea ice extent as recently as 2014 and 2015. Then it suddenly plunged in 2016 and has remained below average ever since.