Scientists had been watching it for years and it finally happened. The colossal 1270 km² iceberg A74 broke off the Brunt Ice Shelf last Friday. To get an idea, it has the size of the greater London area. Twice the size of Madrid.
Scientists’ anticipation has prevented Halley Station, the British research base, from being taken with him. The teams moved it 30 kilometers into the platform to prevent it from adrift with the iceberg.
Although there is no one left at the Halley base, closed for the Antarctic winter, experts are confident that the base has not suffered damage.
So many years observing the cracks and the evolution of this iceberg (at least a decade) and the “birth”, using the English terminology (calving) has occurred in a few hours.
Releasing! As this animation created with images from @CopernicusEU # Sentinel1 shows, a 1270 km2 iceberg broke off from the northern section of Antarctica’s Brunt Ice Shelf on Friday, February 26. This detachment event was predicted a few weeks ago.
On the morning of the 26th the huge platform fell off.
Using the Sentinel 1 satellite of the European Copernicus network, we can see the detachment by comparing the images of the 25th and the next available ones, on February 28th.
The expert Pierre Markuse obtained this impressive image with optical satellites of Copernicus on the same day of the detachment.
The British Antarctic Survey explains in its note that the first signs that rupture was imminent came in November 2020 when the northern rift began to merge with another large rift, near the tongue of the Stancomb-Wills glacier, 35 kilometers away. .
The Halloween rift and Chasm 1 (Chasm) were not far away so for safety they decided to move the base.
Since 2017, scientists only occupy the Halley base during the summer since evacuation in winter could be very complicated.
During the month of January, the crack advanced at a rate of one kilometer a day, severing the 150 meters of thick ice. Everything in these latitudes is disproportionate.
British scientists recall that in glaciology the effects of these events are quite unpredictable but they trust that the base is safe. In winter, the evolution is monitored thanks to the satellites.
It is not known what may happen to the resulting iceberg. It could stay years “tied” to the platform or begin to travel as did its “older cousin”, the even more gigantic iceberg A-68 that has reached South Georgia breaking into several dangerous fragments. A good journey from the heart of the Antarctic Peninsula.
NASA’s Landsat satellite showed it this Monday.
“In the next few weeks or months, the iceberg could move away; or it could run aground and stay close to the Brunt Ice Shelf. Halley Station is located inside all active chasms, on the part of the ice shelf that remains connected to the mainland. Our network of GPS instruments will give us an early warning if the detachment of this iceberg causes changes in the ice around our station “says Dame Jane Francis, director of the British Antarctic Survey.
“Our job now is to closely monitor the situation and assess any potential impacts of the current detachment on the remaining ice shelf. We continually review our contingency plans to ensure the safety of our personnel, protect our research station, and maintain delivery to the science we do at Halley, “said COO Simon Garrod.
These iceberg “births” are part of the natural cycle of Antarctic ice. There is no data to state that it is related to climate change. Recently, new details have been discovered about the operation of these ice colossi, confirming that they also melt below, due to warmer ocean currents and not only on their surface.
Last year, yes, the frozen Continent broke several heat records.