A Massive Part of Antarctica Twice the Size of NYC May Soon Break Off

A giant iceberg more than twice the size of New York City may soon break off the Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica, NASA says that it is “poised” to happen.

If it separates it will be the biggest iceberg, at 660 square miles, to break off since monitoring of the ice shelf began in 1915. There are two cracks that will eventually lead to the break off into the Weddell Sea, south of South America.

One crack, called the Halloween crack, appeared in October 2016. The other crack, which gashes northward through the center of the shelf, has been stable for more than thirty years, when it suddenly started to crack again at a rate of about 2.5 miles a year. When the two cracks meet, the ice shelf will break.

This cracking of the ice, known as calving, is a normal part of an ice shelf’s life cycle, but these changes are unique for the area.

 

 

Photo: “Massive Antarctic Iceberg Spotted on NASA IceBridge Flight” by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is licensed under CC BY 2.0