A giant iceberg approximately 1.5 times the size of Greater Paris broke off from the northern section of Antarctica’s Brunt Ice Shelf on Feb. 26, 2021. New radar images captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission show the 1,270-square-kilometer iceberg breaking free and moving away rapidly from the floating ice shelf.
Glaciologists have been closely monitoring the many cracks and chasms that have formed in the 150-meter thick Brunt Ice Shelf during the last several years. In late-2019, a new crack was spotted in the portion of the ice shelf north of the McDonald Ice Rumples, heading toward another large crack near the Stancomb-Wills Glacier Tongue.
This latest rift was closely monitored by satellite imagery as it was seen quickly cutting across the ice shelf. Recent ice-surface velocity data derived from Sentinel-1 indicated the region north of the new crack to be the most unstable, moving approximately 5 meters per day. Then the newer crack widened rapidly before finally breaking free from the rest of the floating ice shelf.
Image Credit: Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2021), processed by ESA.