315 Billion Tonnes Of Ice Just Broke Off From Antarctic Ice Shelf And It’s 5 Times Bigger Than Malta

For some of us, watching ice cubes slowly melt in our drinks during 100° degree weather is oddly satisfying. As kids, the biggest attraction for us was to take out a fresh ice cube from the freezer, to throw it into a glass of lukewarm water & to see how it immediately cracks due to the sudden change in temperature. Never did we ever think that this can be reproduced on a more grandiose scale. Well, ice cube enthusiasts, the day has come—we can finally witness a gigantic ice cube being dropped into the ocean!

Image credits: Rita Willaert (not the actual photo)

A colossal iceberg broke off of the Amery Ice Shelf in Antarctica on September 26th. D28, or the “Loose Tooth” as it is affectionately known, covers an area of 1,582km² & weighs in at approx. 315 billion tonnes.

Image credits: CopernicusEU

To put this in perspective, it’s larger than the entire Faeroe Island Archipelago & just a bit bigger than the city of Bangkok, Thailand. Talk about an icebreaker!

Image credits: helenafricker

The breaking of the ice (also known as calving) is a natural process whereby the ice shelf loses a chunk of its glaciers, this way balancing the amount of snow that collects upstream.

Scientists predicted that the Loose Tooth would break off eventually & monitored the progress over the years. Prof Helen Fricker from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, reassures that this event is not the result of climate change as satellite records show environmental balance in the Amery Ice Shelf.

The Amery Ice Shelf is also the center of another major calving event. Back in 1962–1963, a massive 9,000km² ice chunk (roughly 6× larger than the Loose Tooth) broke off & drifted into the ocean.

Image credits: StefLhermitte
Calving is a common occurrence as it is estimated that around 40,000 small to medium icebergs break off from Greenland alone. However, none of them compare to the behemoth that the Loose Tooth has proven to be.

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