An immense iceberg broke away from Antarctica over the past week, becoming the new largest iceberg in the world.
Scientists with the British Antarctic Survey and the US National Ice Center confirmed a new iceberg that calved off from the Ronne Ice Shelf on May 14, 2021. Now floating free in the Weddell Sea, the massive block of glacial ice was initially spotted by Dr. Keith Makinson of the British Antarctic Survey and later confirmed using satellite imagery from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission. It has been named A-76.
When iceberg A-68 finally broke apart late last year, the mantle of ‘largest iceberg in the world’ passed to a chunk of ice that has been around for over three decades. Iceberg A-23 broke away from the Filchner Ice Shelf in August of 1986. As of January 2021, the primary part of it — iceberg A-23A — was still over 3,800 square kilometres in area. At that time, the Guiness Book of World Records labelled A-23A as the current largest iceberg in the world. It has been around so long and retained that much of its area because it grounded itself in late 1991. Essentially, it became stuck not far from where it formed and remained there, in frigid waters, for nearly 30 years. Only in the mid-2020 did it start to drift north.