Satellite images captured the break, which occurred about 10 years after satellite monitoring first detected growth and cracks in the ice known as Chasm-1, and nearly two years after a small iceberg named A74 broke away on an ice shelf. A rift is a crack in an ice shelf that extends from the surface to the ocean below, while an ice shelf is a piece of floating ice that is formed by glaciers on land.
Ted Scambos, a research scientist at the University of Colorado at Boulder, wrote in an email that the iceberg “is a huge ice, about 500 billion … Island.”
The birthing event is not expected to affect BAS’s Halley probe, which was moved indoors in 2016 as a precaution after Chasm-1 began growing.
However, “the new bone is located in about 10 kilometers of the sea, and a new explosion may occur in the next few years, forcing the relocation of another expensive port ,” Scambos wrote. The new iceberg is expected to follow a path similar to the A74 into the Weddell Sea and will be named by the US National Ice Center.
Unlike some previous iceberg and ice shelf collapses linked to climate change, the BAS press release said the break was a “natural process” and there was “no evidence that climate change has played a significant role.”
When scientists registered a curious sign, it led them to a sign of a potential climate disaster.
Instead, the crisis began to grow due to “pressure building up … due to the natural growth of the ice shelf,” Hilmar Gudmundsson, a glaciology researcher at Northumbria University, said in a 2019 BBC report.
Scambos likens carving ice to a chisel on wood. “In this case, the chisel is a small island called the ‘MacDonald Ice Rise’,” Scambos wrote. “The ice moves the ice over this seamount, forcing it to break up and eventually break up the floating ice shelf.”
“The piles of these calves, sometimes as big as a small state, are awesome. But they’re just one part of how Antarctica’s ice works,” Scambos said. “Most of the time they have nothing to do with climate change.”