World's Largest Iceberg Breaks Off Antarctica's Ronne Ice Shelf

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A-76, currently the world's largest iceberg, broke off from the Ronne Ice Shelf on May 13, 2021 (Credit: ESA)

Antarctica is surrounded by icebergs. However, the finger-shaped chunk of ice that recently broke loose from the western side of the Ronne Ice Shelf — one of the world's most extensive ice platforms — is worthy of a mention. Measuring approximately 105 miles (170 km) long and 15 miles (25 km) wide, it boasts a surface area of 1,660 sq miles (4,300 sq km) and is currently the world's largest iceberg.

The massive chunk of ice floating in the Weddell Sea was first spotted on May 13, 2021, by Dr. Keith Makinson at the British Antarctic Survey and later confirmed by images captured by the European Space Agency's (ESA's) Sentinel-1A satellite. Since the iceberg is located in Antarctica's quadrant A — the Bellingshausen/Weddell Sea region — and is the 76th one named by the US National Ice Center scientists, it was called A-76.

The iceberg's calving was recorded by the ESA's Sentinel-1A satellite (Credit: ESA)

Researchers say that periodic calving of icebergs like A-76 is a part of an ice shelf's normal life span and most likely not related to climate change. They speculate that the massive chunk will drift through the South Atlantic for several years before breaking into smaller pieces and melting. Since the iceberg has already displaced the water it will add to the ocean as it melts, it will not contribute to rising sea levels.

Though A-76 is undoubtedly larger than the existing record-holder — a 1,540-sq-mile (4,000-sq-km) iceberg dubbed A-23A that is still floating in the Weddell Sea, it is not the biggest iceberg in recorded history. That honor goes to B-15, which measured 4,200 sq miles (11,000 sq km) — about the size of the island of Jamaica — when it broke off Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf in 2000.

Resources: ESA.int, Livescience.com, Guinnessworldrecords.com

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129 Comments
  • chippy
    chippyThursday, June 10, 2021 at 6:15 am
    wow
    • stellafang
      stellafangThursday, June 10, 2021 at 3:00 am
      omg😱😱😱
      • stellafang
        stellafangThursday, June 10, 2021 at 2:20 am
        I wonder when will it melt?
        • disneylover2
          disneylover2Thursday, June 10, 2021 at 10:10 am
          Probably in like 100 years or more... I have no clue I am just guessing 😐
          • sweaterweather0
            sweaterweather0Sunday, June 13, 2021 at 2:07 pm
            Naa, probably in about... 8 years 😕
        • mattchien
          mattchienWednesday, June 9, 2021 at 7:29 am
          Cool and amazing!
          • sasukenaruto
            sasukenarutoWednesday, June 9, 2021 at 5:06 am
            You all just imagine that you lived on the iceberg in a city then it broke into 4ths what would we do then
            • sweaterweather0
              sweaterweather0Sunday, June 13, 2021 at 2:09 pm
              We would probably panic and then we would have to be rescued by the government
            • thebatman550
              thebatman550Wednesday, June 9, 2021 at 4:16 am
              Well this happened on my birthday
              • vanilla_2021
                vanilla_2021Tuesday, June 8, 2021 at 9:38 pm
                I wonder if it is wondering in the ocean?
                • sasukenaruto
                  sasukenarutoTuesday, June 8, 2021 at 8:03 pm
                  This is cool 103 miles wow so long
                  • sasukenaruto
                    sasukenarutoTuesday, June 8, 2021 at 5:24 pm
                    That is just omg 😲 but climate change😱😭😓
                    • arianne_wonder
                      arianne_wonderMonday, June 7, 2021 at 10:42 am
                      Wow! My jaw has drop off!!! (almost)