A massive iceberg half the size of Puerto Rico sheared off from the frozen edge of Antarctica into the Weddell Sea, becoming the largest iceberg afloat, TRTWorld reports.
About the shape of Manhattan but more than 70 times bigger, the enormous iceberg named “A-76” is shown on incredible satellite photos and is “currently the largest berg in the world”, according to the European Space Agency.
The iceberg is around 170 kilometres (105 miles) long and 25 kilometres wide, with an area of 4,320 square kilometres (1,668 square miles), somewhat larger than the Spanish island of Majorca.
The iceberg broke off the western side of the Ronne Ice Shelf and was originally spotted by the British Antarctic Survey, to be confirmed using images Copernicus Sentinel-1 imagery.
“The Sentinel-1 mission consists of two polar-orbiting satellites that rely on C-band synthetic aperture radar imaging, returning data regardless of whether it is day or night, allowing us year-round viewing of remote regions like Antarctica,” ESA said in a press release.
The massive berg was first spotted by Keith Makinson, polar oceanographer and drilling engineer for the British Antarctic Survey. Makinson posted a picture of the iceberg breaking away from the Ronne Ice Shelf on May 13.
The newly calved iceberg takes the place as the world’s largest from the A-23A iceberg – about 3,880 square kilometres in size – also floating in the Weddell Sea.
In November last year, A68a, then the world’s largest iceberg, threatened to weak havoc when it appeared to be on a collision course with the remote South Atlantic island of South Georgia. The place is home to thousands of penguins and seals, and the collision could have impeded their ability to gather food.
That iceberg had also broken off from the Larsen Ice Shelf, which has warmed faster than any other part of Antarctica. Fortunately, it broke up before it could cause any damage to wildlife on the island.
Ice shelves along the Antarctic peninsula that are farther from the South Pole have undergone rapid disintegration in recent years. According to the US National Snow & Ice Data Center, this phenomenon may be related to global warming.
While Earth’s average surface temperature has gone up by one degree Celsius since the 19th century, air over Antarctica has warmed more than twice that much.