Search icon


01st Oct 2019

‘Sydney-sized’ iceberg breaks off from Antartica ice shelf

Jade Hayden


An iceberg the size of Sydney has broken off from an Antartica ice shelf, the first major break-off from that area in over 50 years.

According to the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), the 1,636 square kilometre iceberg – otherwise known as D28 – separated from the Amery ice shelf last week.

The break-off was captured by satellite imagery technology on Thursday.

ABC News reports that scientists had been monitoring the area due to a piece of nearby ice called the ‘Loose Tooth’, which they had expected to separate.

However, AAD glaciologist Ben Galton-Fenzi said that the D28 break-off is not especially worrying in terms of rising sea levels.

“The calving will not directly affect sea level, because the ice shelf was already floating, much like an ice cube in a glass of water,” he said.

“But what will be interesting to see is how the loss of this ice will influence the ocean melting under the remaining ice shelf and the speed at which the ice flows off the continent.”

The Amery ice shelf is the third largest in Antartica. The last time a major iceberg broke off from the shelf was over 50 years ago, in 1964.

Despite the immense size of the iceberg, some scientists are adamant that the separation is not at all linked to climate change.

Helen Amanda Fricker, from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in the US, said that they had been predicting D28 to fall for 2o or so years.

“We predicted a large iceberg would break off between 2010 and 2015,” she said.

“I am excited to see this calving event after all these years. We knew it would happen eventually, but just to keep us all on our toes, it is not exactly where we expected it to be.”

However, others have said that such calving is only likely to increase due to global warming.