An Iceberg Six Times The Size Of Manhattan Broke Off Antarctica And Is Now Floating Away

An iceberg about six times the size of Manhattan has broken off Antarctica and is drifting into open water.

Almost three years ago NASA scientists spotted a crack in Antarctica’s ice shelf so big that it warranted monitoring.

Over the next two years the crack continued to widen and in November last year it finally broke through forming a huge iceberg.

At 627 square kilometres, the iceberg would fill one third of Port Philip Bay in Victoria and is about the size of about 12 Sydney Harbours.

The 33.8km by 19.3km chunk of ice is estimated to be about half a kilometre thick and NASA’s Earth Observatory said it is now drifting toward the Southern Ocean.

REUTERS/NASA Earth Observatory/Holli Riebeek

The B-31 Iceberg is seen after separating from a rift in Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier in this NASA Earth Observatory handout image acquired on November 13, 2013.

“Going on measurements of Pine Island glacier before the calving—and hints of partial grounding in the history of the iceberg movement—we think it is possibly 500 meters thick,” Grant Bigg who is leading a research team tracking the iceberg said.

NASA has called the iceberg B31 and is watching its movement through Antarctica’s Pine Island Bay but as the winter months plunge the region in darkness it will be difficult to track its movement.

“We are doing some research on local ocean currents to try to explain the motion properly. It has been surprising how there have been periods of almost no motion, interspersed with rapid flow,” Bigg said.

“There were a couple of occasions early on when there might have been partial grounding or collisions with the seafloor, as B31 bounced from one side of the Bay to the other.”
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