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The Largest Iceberg in The World Just Broke Off From Antarctica, And Is Floating Away

by | May 21, 2021 | New, News

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

The A-76 iceberg. (ESA/Copernicus Sentinel data) NATURE The Largest Iceberg in The World Just Broke Off From Antarctica, And Is Floating Away author logo MARIANNE GUENOT, BUSINESS INSIDER 21 MAY 2021

An iceberg measuring about 70 times the size of Manhattan has broken off from the Ronne Ice Shelf of Antarctica, making it the current largest iceberg in the world, the European Space Agency (ESA) said on Wednesday.

Satellite images captured the moment it broke off from the ice sheet, shown in the tweet below:

The world's largest iceberg (~ 4320 km²) recently broke off the Ronne Ice Shelf, Antarctica #Sentinel1 @BAS_News @sentinel_hub @ESA_EO @esascience @EO_OPEN_SCIENCE pic.twitter.com/PdQvfrNgaK

— Adrien Wehrlé (@AdrienWehrle) May 19, 2021

The oblong iceberg, named A76, is now floating into the Weddell Sea.

It is about 169 km (105 miles) long and 24 km (15 miles) wide, and has a surface area of 4,320 square km (1,668 square miles), the ESA said.

That's about 72 times the land area of Manhattan, which stands at about 23 square miles, according to latest available data.

A new record broken

Although the new iceberg currently holds the record as the largest in the world, it is not even in the top 10 biggest icebergs in history, New Scientist reported.

A68a, an iceberg measuring 6,000 square kilometers (2,300 square miles) – about the size of Delaware – held the record until December 2020, when it broke up.

It then passed the title to A23A, an iceberg which broke from Antarctica in 1986 and measures 4,000 square km (1,540 square miles).

The largest-ever iceberg was spotted in the Southern Ocean in 1958, according to the Guinness World Records. It was thought to be about 30,000 kilometers (12,000 square miles), though this was an estimate as scientists did not have satellite imagery at the time.

New Scientist reported that because the iceberg calved from the Ronne Ice shelf, it is not a cause for major concern.

That area is not being affected heavily by climate change, and this ice shelf releases icebergs as part of its natural cycle, Alex Brisbourne, a glaciologist at the British Antarctic Survey said, according to New Scientist.

The Ronne Ice Shelf floats over the ocean, so even if the iceberg were to melt away completely, it would not make a difference to sea levels, just like an ice cube doesn't change the water level in a glass, CNN reported.

Still, depending on where it goes, the iceberg could prove a nuisance.

Before it broke up, the A68a iceberg was on course to cut off a vital access route to a penguin colony in South Georgia.

This article was originally published by Business Insider.

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