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315-billion ton iceberg breaks off of Antartica


An iceberg weighing 315 billion tons has broken off of Antartica, according to satellite images.

In the course of five days in September, the iceberg, which covers 1,636 sq km in area, broke off of the Amery Ice Shelf. Dubbed D28, it is the biggest iceberg to come off the area in over 50 years and will need to be monitored to ensure it doesn’t interfere with international shipping lanes.

Located on the eastern side of Antartica, Amery is the third-largest ice shelf on the continent.

A larger chunk of ice, affectionately called Loose Tooth due to its resemblance to a child’s molar, also appears to be ready to fall off the Amery Ice Shelf. Many experts even thought that section would come off first.

“I am excited to see this calving event after all these years. We knew it would happen eventually, but just to keep us all on our toes, it is not exactly where we expected it to be,” Prof. Helen Fricker from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography told BBC News.

Prof. Fricker told the BBC that the detachment of D28 was not connected to climate change, even though the area experienced strong surface melt this year.

She added that satellite data showed the ice shelf was in equilibrium.

For now D28 is being taken westward by currents and is estimated to be about 210m thick, on top of weighing over 300 billion tons. It’ll likely take years to break up and melt entirely.