(CNN)– An iceberg the size of the city of London broke off the Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica on Sunday, according to the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).
Scientists first discovered significant cracks in the ice shelf a decade ago, but two major breaks have occurred in the past two years. The BAS Halley Research Station is located on the Brunt Ice Shelf and glacier experts say the research station is safe.
The iceberg is about 1,550 square kilometers. The researchers state that this event was to be expected and is not a consequence of climate change.
“This calving was expected and is part of the natural behavior of the Brunt Ice Shelf. It is not related to climate change. Our science and operational teams continue to monitor the ice shelf in real time to ensure its safety and maintain scientific activity. that we carried out at Halley,” Professor Dominic Hodgson, a BAS glaciologist, said in a press release.
The calving comes amid record sea ice extent in Antarctica, where it is summer.
“Although the decline in Antarctic sea ice extent is always pronounced at this time of year, this year it has been unusually rapid,” reported in early January scientists from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, “and in late December, Antarctic sea ice extent was the lowest in 45 years of satellite records.”
The data center researchers say the sea ice scarcity has been due in part to a broad swath of warmer-than-normal air temperatures, which rose as much as 2°C above average over the Ross Sea in November. and December. Strong winds have also accelerated the decline in sea ice, they reported.
The latest data shows that sea ice has not recovered since then, suggesting that the continent could end the summer with a new record on the books for the second year in a row.
Antarctica has experienced a roller coaster of sea ice extent over the past two decades, swinging wildly between record highs and lows. Unlike the Arctic, where scientists say climate change is accelerating its effects, Antarctic sea ice extent is highly variable.
“There is a relationship between what’s happening in Antarctica and the general warming trend in the rest of the world, but it’s different from what we’re seeing in mountain glaciers and in the Arctic,” Ted Scambos, a glaciologist at the Antarctic, previously told CNN. the University of Colorado at Boulder and chief scientist for the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
Satellite data dating back to 1978 shows that the region was still producing a record extent of sea ice in 2014 and 2015. It then plummeted suddenly in 2016 and has remained below average ever since.
— CNN’s Rachel Ramirez contributed to this report.
Source: CNN Espanol