Boston-Sized Iceberg Breaks Off Ice Shelf in Antarctica

A European Space Agency satellite got footage of the getaway.
Loukia Papadopoulos

The Getz Ice Shelf in West Antarctica just lost a Boston-sized iceberg and a European Space Agency (ESA) satellite was there to get footage of the getaway. ESA released a GIF created from Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellite images that shows the iceberg gracefully separating itself from the ice shelf.


"A large iceberg, approximately 260 sq km, recently calved from using images from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission from 2 September to 14 October 2019, this animation shows the berg breaking off before spinning around in the Amundsen Sea," said the ESA.

Named B47

The agency also revealed that the iceberg, named B47 by the U.S. National Ice Center (NIC), is approximately 35 km in length, and 10 km wide, bigger than the size of Boston.

The images were recovered with the Copernicus Sentinel-1 which carries radar. This means the satellite can return images regardless of day or night which is important through the long, dark winter months.

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Before you panic that climate change may once again be responsible for this break-off, it should be noted that not all iceberg getaways are caused by global warming. Some are simply part of an iceberg's natural life cycle.

Two weeks ago, An iceberg three times the size of Malta, or just smaller than the Isle of Skye in Scotland, broke away from East Antarctica's Amery ice shelf. The iceberg weighed 315 billion-tonnes, spanned 1,636 sq km, and has been named D28.

Its release was not related to climate change. In fact, losing icebergs is a way in which ice shelves maintain their equilibrium.

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