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Antarctic ice shelf calves massive iceberg

Mitchell Van Homrigh, May 20, 2021 7:00PM The Daily Telegraph

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An enormous iceberg has calved from the western side of the Ronne Ice Shelf, lying in the Weddell Sea, in Antarctica and seen here in a satellite image. The iceberg is currently the largest iceberg in the world. Picture: ESA media_cameraAn enormous iceberg has calved from the western side of the Ronne Ice Shelf, lying in the Weddell Sea, in Antarctica and seen here in a satellite image. The iceberg is currently the largest iceberg in the world. Picture: ESA

geography

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An iceberg almost 10 times the size of Sydney Harbour has broken off Antarctica.

It is the largest iceberg of its kind in the world.

The new iceberg is 170km long and 25km wide.

The enormous mass shattered off the side of the Ronne Ice Shelf*. Satellite images recorded the 4320 sqkm iceberg floating in the Weddell Sea, on the Antarctic Peninsula side of the continent.

In comparison, the Australian Capital Territory — where Canberra is — is 2358 sqkm, Kangaroo Island off South Australia is 4405 sqkm and the Indonesian island of Bali is 5780 sqkm.

The huge mass of ice is bigger than the iceberg known as A-23A, which, at 3880 sqkm when it first formed, was the previous largest.

The frozen water mass was spotted by the British Antarctic Survey and confirmed by the US National Ice Center.

Scientists are not attributing* this to climate change.

A spokewoman for the British Antarctic Survey said the calving of the iceberg was expected.

“A76 and A74 are both just part of natural cycles on ice shelves that hadn’t calved anything big for decades. It’s important to monitor the frequency of all iceberg calving, but these are all expected for now,” she said.

media_cameraA “loose tooth” on the Amery Ice Shelf, eastern Antarctica in October 2019. A crack like this could result in calving. Picture: AFP/Richard Coleman/Australian Antarctic Division

According to America’s National Snow and Ice Center, calving is when large chunks break off from glaciers or ice shelves.

The masses can be dangerous for ships and land masses if they smash up against them.

An iceberg is defined as a chunk of ice larger than 5m. Anything smaller is referred to as a bergy bit or growler.

media_cameraIceberg A-68A in November 2020, then about twice the size of Luxembourg and one of the largest icebergs recorded. It was moving towards South Georgia Island. There were concerns it could impact penguins’ and seals’ ability to gather food if it came to rest against the island. Picture: AFP/European Space Agency

GOING, GOING, GONE
In late April, the US National Ice Center reported that an iceberg called A68 was no more.

When it broke off Antarctica’s Larson C Ice Shelf in 2017 it was 6000 sqkm and estimated to weigh a billion tonnes, the biggest iceberg in the world.

For the first year it barely moved.

Then it began to travel north with wind and ocean currents into the South Atlantic Ocean towards South Georgia Island, where many Antarctic icebergs go.

It melted and broke up into small pieces, no longer big enough to track.

GLOSSARY

  • Ronne Ice Shelf: adjoins the Filchner Ice Shelf and they are sometimes named together as Ronne-Filchner or Filchner-Ronne
  • attributing: saying something is causing something

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Scientists solve mystery of giant melting glacier

QUICK QUIZ

  1. How did the new iceberg form?
  2. Who or what took the photo of the new iceberg?
  3. Where is it going?
  4. What is the name of this new iceberg?
  5. Explain what a growler is.

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Make Up a Better Name
A small chunk of ice is called a berg bit or a growler.

Can you think of new, better and fun names for a small cloud, a small mountain, a small meteor and a small volcano?

For each new name, write a sentence explaining it is the perfect choice!

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Science, Critical and Creative Thinking

2. Extension
What do you think causes the enormous icebergs to break off an ice shelf? Write down as many reasons that you can think of.

When you have finished, can you find a way to check your ideas to see if you are correct?

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Science, Geography

VCOP ACTIVITY
Adjectives
An adjective is a describing word. They are often found describing a noun. To start with look at the words before the nouns.

Search for all the adjectives you can find in the article

Did you find any repeat adjectives or are they all different?

Extension: Pick three of your favourite adjectives from the text and put them in your own sentences to show other ways to use them.

Have you used any in your writing?

Extra Reading in geography