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The iceberg was spotted by the European Space Agency’s Copernicus satellite (Picture: ESA) The world’s largest iceberg appears to have broken off the Antarctic ice shelf. The 1,667 square mile slab of ice, slightly larger than the island of Majorca, broke away from the Ronne Ice Shelf in a process known as ‘calving’.
It’s currently floating in the Weddell Sea, in Western Antarctica, and was first spotted by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellite. The splitting of this particular iceberg, which is 105 miles long by 15 miles wide, was an expected event, according to experts from the British Antarctic Survey.
It’s not thought to be linked to climate change and is instead a natural process. Dubbed A-76 by scientists, it’s the largest iceberg currently known to be floating, taking the top spot from iceberg A-23A, which also floats in the Weddell Sea – but is a puny 1,498 square miles in comparison. The largest icebergs of all time, however, are much bigger – B-15, seen in 2000, was 4,200 sq miles, while A68, seen in 2017, was 2,239 sq miles.
Confirming the existence of A-76 required an international, multi-disciplinary effort, with the British Antarctic Survey first noticing it had broken off – later being confirmed by the US National Ice Center using ESA’s satellite images. ESA’s Sentinel-1 satellites orbit the Earth’s poles and use radar, meaning they can observe remote regions like Antarctica in day or night.