The Largest Iceberg on Earth Has Just Broken Off of Antarctica

Iceberg A-76 is roughly 70 times the size of Manhattan.
May 20, 2021, 2:11pm
Iceberg A-76 is roughly 70 times the size of Manhattan.
Image: Copernicus Sentinel data (2021), processed by ESA
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The largest iceberg on Earth, measuring over 100 miles across 15 miles wide, has just broken off of Antarctica. Named A7-6, the gigantic iceberg was calved from the southern continent’s Ronne Ice Shelf and is now floating across the Weddell Sea.

The huge chunk of ice was first spotted by Keith Makinson of the British Antarctic Survey last week, and has been imaged from space by the Copernicus-Sentinel-1 mission, according to the European Space Agency (ESA). 

A-76 has a rectangular shape similar to Manhattan Island, though it is about 70 times bigger.

The structure has snatched the mantle of the world's largest iceberg from A-23A, its neighbor in the Weddell Sea, which is about 10 percent smaller. Icebergs are named after their quadrant of origin, in this case A, and then given sequential numbers.

These enormous floating ice structures break off of Antarctic ice sheets as part of a natural seasonal cycle, and scientists have not linked the birth of A-76 directly to climate change. However, warming global temperatures may accelerate the collapse of some of Antarctica’s ice sheets in the future.