World's largest iceberg breaks off from the Antarctica
An enormous slab of ice, almost four times the size of New York City, has broken off the coast of Antarctica, becoming the largest iceberg currently afloat in the world. Named A-76 by scientists, the brand new iceberg was first spotted in satellite images recently captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-1 Mission, the European Space Agency (ESA) said in a statement on Wednesday.
The iceberg spans 4,320 square kilometers
The surface of the new iceberg spans 4,320 square kilometers. It is 175 kilometer long and 25 kilometer in breadth. By comparison, it is nearly half the size of the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. In fact, the berg is even bigger than Spain's tourist island of Majorca in the Mediterranean, which covers 3,640 square kilometers.
It breaks record of A-23A, another iceberg in Weddell Sea
After breaking away from Antarctica's Ronne Ice Shelf, the A-76 is floating in the Weddell Sea. It has surpassed the record of A-23A, about 3,380 square kilometers in size, which is also floating in the Weddell. Another massive iceberg, which broke off from Antarctic's Larsen C Ice Shelf in 2017, has since lost much of its mass and broken down into pieces.
Not linked to climate change, says US researcher
Periodic calving of large chunks of ice shelves is part of a natural cycle, and breaking off of A-76 is not linked to climate change, Ted Scambos, a research glaciologist at the University of Colorado in Boulder, said, according to Reuters. Scambos said the Ronne Ice Shelf has "behaved in a stable, quasi-periodic fashion" over the past century.
Why was the name A-76 chosen?
However, some ice shelves along the Antarctic peninsula have experienced swift disintegration in the recent years, a phenomenon scientists say could be related to global warming. Wondering what's behind the name A-76? Well, ESA says icebergs are traditionally named after the Antarctic quadrant in which they were originally seen, followed by a sequential number. Then, if the iceberg breaks, a sequential number is added.