(CNN) – The world’s largest iceberg broke off Antarctica a few days ago. It is a giant chunk of ice that is almost 80 times the size of Manhattan or, to put it in other words, that is larger than the island of Mallorca in Spain.
The iceberg broke off the east side of the Ronne Ice Shelf in the Weddell Sea, the European Space Agency (ESA) reported on Wednesday.
The iceberg, which is shaped like a giant ironing board, is about 170 km long and 25 km wide.
Icebergs are part of natural cycles: large chunks of ice break away from the shelves at regular intervals. Scientists don’t attribute this particular breakdown to climate change. They believe that it is part of the natural cycle of iceberg shedding in the region.
The difference between this icerberg from Antarctica to glaciers
Once it melts, the new iceberg will not cause a rise in sea level, because it was part of a floating ice shelf (in the same way that a melting ice cube does not increase the level of the drink in a glass ).
For this reason, what happens with icebergs like this is different from cases of glaciers or ice sheets that are on land and when they break off into the ocean and melt they increase the global sea level. If the entire Antarctic ice sheet were to melt, it could rise sea levels by almost 58 meters.
– Keith Makinson (@ KeithMakinson1) May 13, 2021
ESA said the iceberg was first seen by Keith Makinson, a polar oceanographer with the British Antarctic Survey, last week and confirmed by the National Ice Center with images from ESA’s Copernicus Sentinel-1.
The huge chunk of ice is now officially known as A-76. The name may sound a bit boring for the world’s largest iceberg, but it’s based on science. ESA explained that icebergs are traditionally named after the Antarctic quadrant in which they were originally seen, then a sequential number and then, if broken, a sequential letter.