A giant iceberg bigger than the city of Los Angeles has broken off the Amery ice shelf in East Antarctica. Its huge size means it will now have to be monitored so it doesn’t become a hazard to ships .But surprisingly, scientists do not believe that the iceberg snapped off due to climate change. When an iceberg breaks off an ice sheet it is known as a “calving event.” A calving event hasn’t happened at the Amery ice shelf since 1963-64.
Ice shelves are essentially floating extensions of glaciers that hold back the flow of ground ice and maintain a standard size because icebergs occasionally break off them. The huge iceberg, called D-28, is about 1,636 square kilometers (631 square miles) in size. In comparison, the floating ice area of the Amery ice shelf is around 60,000 square kilometers (22,166 square miles) in size.
The calving event occurred next to an area known as the “loose tooth” which scientists have been watching because it looks like it will break off. The area has been monitored for the past 20 years by scientists from the Australian Antarctic program, the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies and Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Iceberg D-28 floating into the ocean shouldn’t affect sea levels because it was from a section of the ice shelf that was floating anyway. The Amery ice shelf is the third-largest in Antartica, and scientists expect to see major calving events from these areas every 60 to 70 years.