See the birth of a new iceberg! Incredible images reveal the moment a berg the size of the Isle of Wight broke away from Antarctica’s Brunt Ice Shelf

Incredible new images show the birth of a huge iceberg in Antarctica, which is about the size of the Isle of Wight.

The enormous floating mountain, called A83, has a total area of ​​380 square kilometers and is approximately 150 meters thick.

Experts say it broke away from the Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica on Monday, just weeks after a new crack was spotted in satellite images.

According to the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), the movement of iceberg A83 is now strongly controlled by ocean currents.

“As of this morning it had shifted about a mile to the west and rotated slightly,” Dr Oliver Marsh, a glaciologist at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), told MailOnline.

A new crack in the ice running perpendicular to the Halloween crack (horizontal) has spawned the new iceberg, named A83

How do icebergs form?

Icebergs form when chunks of ice break off from the end of an ice shelf or from a glacier that flows into a body of water.

This is called ‘calving’ and is a natural process responsible for ice loss at the edges of glaciers and ice sheets.

As was famously demonstrated by the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, icebergs often pose a hazard to ships.

An iceberg’s mass can spread widely beneath the water’s surface, meaning a mountain can look smaller than it actually is.

Source: antarcticglaciers.org

Antarctica’s Brunt Ice Shelf – named after Welsh meteorologist David Brunt – has seen a number of icebergs break off in recent years.

This latest, A83, finally came loose after a vertical tear connected to a previously existing horizontal tear, like scissors cutting out a triangle of paper.

The horizontal crack, about 50 kilometers in diameter, is called Halloween Crack because it was discovered on October 31, 2016.

But the shorter vertical crack – measuring 14 km – was not spotted until April 26 this year.

The final break occurred in the early hours of Monday (May 20), according to BAS experts who studied satellite and GPS data.

β€œThis calving has been expected since the appearance of Halloween Crack eight years ago,” Dr Marsh said.

‘[It] reduces the total area of ​​the ice shelf to the smallest size since monitoring began.”

Ice shelves are large floating ice platforms that connect to a landmass, such as Antarctica, although they also occur in other polar locations such as Greenland.

These plates act as a protective buffer for the continental ice and prevent the entire Antarctic ice sheet from flowing into the ocean, which would dramatically raise global sea levels.

An outline of the new iceberg is shown in red.  Nearby is Halley VI, a portable research station operated by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS)

An outline of the new iceberg is shown in red. Nearby is Halley VI, a portable research station operated by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS)

Pictured: A still from a flyover video of a huge chasm appearing in the Brunt Ice Shelf, filmed in January 2023

Pictured: A still from a flyover video of a huge chasm appearing in the Brunt Ice Shelf, filmed in January 2023

Antarctica is home to a number of ice shelves shown on this map, including Brunt, Shackleton and Ross.  Brunt is located east of the Antarctic Peninsula (the part that sticks out like a tail from the Antarctic mainland)

Antarctica is home to a number of ice shelves shown on this map, including Brunt, Shackleton and Ross. Brunt is located east of the Antarctic Peninsula (the part that sticks out like a tail from the Antarctic mainland)

The melting of ice shelves has been linked to global warming, but according to BAS, the cracks that led to iceberg A83 were created by a natural process.

Dr. Marsh said the mountain broke off due to the flow from Brunt Ice Shelf to a fixed point on the seabed (known as the McDonald Ice Rumples).

“Over time this created a bending stress in the ice north of Halloween Crack, which increased until it exceeded a critical value,” he told MailOnline.

“This type of calving is just one of the mechanisms by which the ice sheet loses mass to keep up with the year-round snowfall.”

The horizontal crack is called Halloween Crack because it was discovered on October 31, 2016.  ​​The last measurement of the crack (before the separation event) estimated it to be about 30 miles in diameter.

The horizontal crack is called Halloween Crack because it was discovered on October 31, 2016. ​​The last measurement of the crack (before the separation event) estimated it to be about 30 miles in diameter.

The Halley VI station consists of eight units each mounted on skis so they can be easily maneuvered off the edge of the ice shelf if necessary

The Halley VI station consists of eight units each mounted on skis so they can be easily maneuvered off the edge of the ice shelf if necessary

The horizontal crack is called Halloween Crack because it was discovered on October 31, 2016 and is approximately 30 miles wide.  This image shows the crack in September 2023

The horizontal crack is called Halloween Crack because it was discovered on October 31, 2016 and is approximately 30 miles wide. This image shows the crack in September 2023

The Brunt Ice Shelf is also the site of BAS’s Halley VI research station, where important monitoring work is carried out.

Halley VI consists of eight units, each mounted on skis, so they can be easily maneuvered off the edge of the ice shelf if necessary.

In 2016 – the same year Halloween Crack was discovered – BAS experts took the precaution of moving the base 22 kilometers inland, further away from the water.

If it had stayed there, it would have sailed away on an iceberg that broke loose in January 2023.

Currently Halley VI has no staff, but a new team will return to the station in November.

Antarctica’s ice shelves could melt up to 40% faster than we thought, research warns

Antarctica’s ice shelves could be melting up to 40 percent faster than we thought due to coastal ocean currents, a new study warns.

Scientists in California have created a new climate model that takes into account the impact of a coastal current called the Antarctic Coastal Current (ACC).

The researchers say this narrow current causes warm water to melt Antarctica’s ice shelves – floating ice platforms around the Antarctic coastline.

Their model suggests that ice shelf melt rates are 20 to 40 percent higher than previous predictions from other climate models.

Ice shelves help protect against the uncontrolled release of land ice into the ocean, so if they melt it could ultimately contribute to faster sea level rise.

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