An iceberg about 70 times the size of Manhattan broke off from Antarctica, creating the world’s largest iceberg

A-76 iceberg, currently the largest iceberg
The A-76 iceberg has roughly the same surface area as the Spanish Island of Majorca, the European Space Agency said on May 19, 2021.

  • A large iceberg broke off from the Ronne Ice Shelf in Antarctica, the European Space Agency said.
  • It is about 70 times the land area of Manhattan, making it the world’s biggest iceberg right now.
  • Scientists said this was not climate change-related and shouldn’t affect sea levels.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

An iceberg measuring about 70 times the size of Manhattan has broken off from the Ronne Ice Shelf of Antarctica, making it the current largest iceberg in the world, the European Space Agency (ESA) said on Wednesday.

Satellite images captured the moment it broke off from the ice sheet, shown in the tweet below:

The oblong iceberg, named A76, is now floating into the Wedell Sea.

It is about 105 miles long and 15 miles wide, and has a surface area of 1,668 square miles, the ESA said.

That’s about 72 times the land area of Manhattan, which stands at about 23 square miles, according to latest available data.

A new record broken

Although the new iceberg currently holds the record as the largest in the world, it is not even in the top 10 biggest icebergs in history, New Scientist reported.

A68a, an iceberg measuring 2300 square miles – about the size of Delaware – held the record until December 2020, when it broke up.

It then passed the title to A23A, an iceberg which broke from Antarctica in 1986 and measures 1,540 square miles.

The largest-ever iceberg was spotted in the Southern Ocean in 1958, according to the Guiness World Records. It was thought to be about 12,000 square miles, though this was an estimate as scientists did not have satellite imagery at the time.

Filchner Ronne Ice Shelf, Antartica
The Filchner-Ronne Ice shelf is the second biggest ice shelf in Antarctica.

New Scientist reported that because the iceberg calved from the Ronne Ice shelf, it is not a cause for major concern.

That area is not being affected heavily by climate change, and this ice shelf releases icebergs as part of its natural cycle, Alex Brisbourne, a glaciologist at the British Antarctic Survey said, according to New Scientist.

The Ronne Ice Shelf floats over the ocean, so even if the iceberg were to melt away completely, it would not make a difference to sea levels, just like an ice cube doesn’t change the water level in a glass, CNN reported.

Still, depending on where it goes, the iceberg could prove a nuisance.

Before it broke up, the A68a iceberg was on course to cut off a vital access route to a penguin colony in South Georgia.

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