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Iceberg larger than New York City breaks off Antarctica

The phenomena comes almost a decade after scientists first detected growth of vast cracks in Antarctica's Brunt Ice Shelf.

An iceberg larger than New York City has broken off Antarctica's Brunt Ice Shelf. The phenomena is known as calving and comes almost a decade after scientists at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) first detected growth of vast cracks in the ice.

The BAS says the iceberg is 490 square miles. By comparison, New York City is 302 square miles.

The first indication that a calving event was imminent came in November 2020 when a new chasm – named North Rift – headed towards another large chasm near the Stancomb-Wills Glacier Tongue.

It's the third major crack in the ice shelf that's become active in the last ten years.

During January, the rift pushed northeast at up to 0.62 miles per day, cutting through the 492-feet thick floating ice shelf.  

The iceberg was formed when the crack widened several hundred feet in a few hours on Friday morning, finally breaking free from the rest of the floating ice shelf.

Where the broken-off berg goes remains unclear. The BAS said it could move away in the coming weeks of months, or it could run aground and remain close to the Brunt Ice Shelf.

The calving is not expected to pose a threat the to BAS's Halley Research Station which is located on the Brunt ice shelf. The 12-person team working at the station left earlier this month, the BAS said.

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