Antarctica: a huge iceberg breaks away from the pack ice

An immense iceberg of a size equivalent to more than fifteen times the surface of Paris broke off from Antarctica on Sunday. This phenomenon is not due to climate change, even if the region is threatened by warming, according to the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), the research organization on the polar zones which spotted the phenomenon.

The block of ice, which is 1,550 km2, broke away from the pack ice on Sunday between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. GMT (between 6 and 7 p.m. French time) during a high amplitude tide which enlarged an existing crack. , dubbed Chasm-1, off the Brunt barrier.

Two years ago, an iceberg of nearly identical size, the A-74, had already formed in the same area of ​​the Weddell Sea. Brunt’s Barrier is a 100 m thick floating ice patch. Floating, she flows several hundred meters each year towards the ocean where it is subject to tides and higher temperatures.

VIDEO. In February 2021, another giant iceberg breaks away from the rest of the Antarctic sea ice

Since the 1950s, the barrier has housed the Halley polar station of the BAS, which therefore also drifts to the northwest. The glaciologists, present on site from November to March, have been observing the progression of vast cracks in the ice for ten years. In 2016, the BAS had decided to move this station about twenty kilometers, fearing that it would find itself on a drifting iceberg following the melting of the ice.

However, the Antarctic continent is suffering the consequences of global warming, as elsewhere on the planet, and record temperatures were recorded last year. The extent of the ice there reached in February 2022 the minimum ever recorded in 44 years of satellite observationsrecently indicated the annual report of the European program on climate change Copernicus.

In 2021, the complete melting of an iceberg, 4,000 km north of where it broke off from the pack ice in 2017, released more than 150 billion tons of fresh water mixed with nutrients and bacteriaworrying scientists about the impact of the phenomenon on a fragile ecosystem.

“This detachment (Sunday, Ed) was expected and is a natural behavior of the Brunt barrier. It is not linked to climate change, ”said glaciologist Dominic Hodgson, quoted in the press release.

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