Climate change did not unleash giant Antarctic iceberg, scientists say

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A new iceberg has formed on the coast of Antarctica. The unnamed, 600-square-mile iceberg broke off from the nearly 500-foot-thick Brunt Ice Shelf on Sunday during high tides known as spring tides, British media reported. Antarctic Survey (BAS).

The calving event is “part of the natural behavior of the Brunt Ice Shelf” and is “unrelated to climate change”, according to BAS glaciologist Dominic Hodgson.

Drone footage taken on January 22 shows a 598-square-meter iceberg breaking off from Antarctica’s Brunt Ice Shelf, creating a massive crack. (Video: British Antarctic Survey via Storyful)

The satellite images of the crack came about 10 years after satellite surveillance detected the growth of a previously dormant crack in the ice known as Abyss-1, and nearly two years after a smaller iceberg called A74 separated from the same ice shelf. A chasm refers to a break in an ice shelf that extends from the surface down to the ocean, while an ice shelf is a piece of floating ice formed by glaciers formed on land.

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Ted Scambos, senior research scientist at the University of Colorado at Boulder, wrote in an email that the iceberg “is a massive 500 billion ton iceberg … far from being the largest iceberg to rival Long.” Island.”

The calving event is not expected to affect BAS’s Halley Research Station, which has been moved inland as a precaution since Chasm-1 began growing in 2016.

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However, “the new fracture places the foundation 10 miles offshore, and new fractures could develop over the next few years, leading to another costly relocation of the station,” Scambos wrote. The new iceberg will enter the Weddell Sea along the same route as A74 and will be named after the US National Ice Center.

Unlike some previous icebergs and collapsed ice shelves linked to climate change, the BAS press release said this was a “natural process” and “there is no evidence that climate change has played a significant role”.

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But the chasm began to widen due to “stress caused by the natural growth of the ice sheet,” Hilmar Gudmundsson, a glaciologist at Northumbria University, told the BBC in 2019.

Scambos compares the calving of an iceberg to a chisel on a wood panel. “In this case, the chisel was a small island called the MacDonald Ice Rise,” Scambos wrote. “Ice currents pushed the ice against this rocky seamount, causing the floating ice shelf to split and break off.”

“These big iceberg calvings are sometimes as big as a small state. But they’re part of how the Antarctic ice sheet works,” Scambos said. “For the most part, they have nothing to do with climate change.”

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