The newly calved berg, designated A-76 by scientists, was spotted in recent satellite images captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission, the space agency said in a statement on its website with a photo of the huge oblong ice cap. Its land area covers 4,320 square kilometers (1,668 square miles) and is 175 kilometers (106 miles) long and 25 kilometers (15 miles) wide. This is three-quarters the size of Prince Edward Island, which has an area of 5,660 square kilometers, and larger than the Spanish tourist island of Mallorca in the Mediterranean, which occupies 3,640 square kilometers (1,405 square miles ). The US state of Rhode Island is even smaller, with a land mass of just 2,678 square kilometers (1,034 square miles).
The enormity of the A-76, which broke off the Ronne Ice Shelf in Antarctica, ranks as the largest extant iceberg on the planet, overtaking the now second A-23A, by a size of about 3380 square kilometers (1305 square miles) and also floating. in the Weddell Sea.
Another massive Antarctic iceberg that threatened a penguin-populated island off the southern tip of South America has since lost much of its mass and shattered into pieces, scientists said earlier this year.
The A-76 was first detected by the British Antarctic Survey and confirmed by the US National Ice Center, based in Maryland, using images of Copernicus Sentinel-1, consisting of two polar orbiting satellites .
The Ronne Ice Shelf, near the base of the Antarctic Peninsula, is one of the largest of several enormous floating ice sheets that connect to the landmass and extend into the surrounding seas.
Not linked to climate change
Periodic calving of large chunks of these plateaus is part of a natural cycle, and the breaking of the A-76, which is expected to split into two or three soon, is unrelated to climate change, Ted said. Scambos, a research glaciologist. at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Scambos said the Ronne and another large ice shelf, the Ross, have “performed stably and almost periodically” over the past century or more. Because ice was already floating in the sea before dislodging from the coast, its escape does not raise ocean levels, he told Reuters via email.
Some ice shelves along the Antarctic Peninsula, further from the South Pole, have experienced rapid disintegration in recent years, a phenomenon scientists believe may be linked to global warming, according to US National Snow & Ice Data Center.