Enjoying EarthSky? Subscribe.

268,025 subscribers and counting ...

Giant iceberg on the move

The calving of this iceberg in July reduced the size of Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf by 12 percent. The berg hung near the coast awhile, but now it’s seen drifting.

Giant iceberg breaking away from Larsen C ice shelf, via ESA.

The European Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission caught the images to make this animation on September 16, 2017. It’s the giant iceberg A68, seen in July to have broken off Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf and now – as seen in these images – drifting out to sea. The European Space Agency (ESA) said described the iceberg as:

… a lump of ice more than twice the size of Luxembourg [that] broke off the Larsen C ice shelf, spawning one of the largest icebergs on record and changing the outline of the Antarctic Peninsula forever.

In fact, this iceberg reduced the size of the Larsen C ice shelf by about 12 percent. How big is it? ESA compared it to the small European country of Luxembourg, which is about 2,586 square kilometers. That’s in contrast to the U.S. state of Delaware (6,452 square km). So – for you, U.S. readers – this iceberg is about the size of the state of Delaware.

Is the calving of this large iceberg the result of climate change? There’s an interesting article about that at The Conversation.

What we know for sure is that, after breaking off their ice shelves, bergs like this one can remain in place for years. But this one is now drifting. The September images showed a gap of about 11 miles (18 km) as the berg appears to be turning away from the ice shelf.

Bottom line: Animation of iceberg A68, which calved from the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica in July, 2017 and is now drifting seaward.

Deborah Byrd

MORE ARTICLES