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The British Antarctic Survey has released the first-ever video footage of an enormous iceberg as it broke off from an Antarctic ice shelf in July 2017.
To capture the incredible video and stills, cameras carried by helicopters circled over and around the iceberg, called A-68, as it continued to move into the Weddell Sea, away from the Larsen C ice shelf. The massive iceberg weighs an estimated 1 trillion tons and spans more than 2,300 square miles (6,000 square kilometers). It has been described as about the size of Delaware, twice the size of Luxembourg or roughly four times the size of London.
Larsen - C - A-68 - Antarctica - Ice
Larsen C, where A-68 originated, was one of Antarctica's largest ice shelves. These vast structures build up over thousands of years, forming when ice sheets and glaciers on land flow past the coastline and over the ocean. By contrast, sea ice forms on the ocean surface when seawater freezes and is typically just a few meters thick.
Since A-68 separated from Larsen C, so-called "bergy bits" — clusters of smaller icebergs — have broken away from the large, floating ice mass.
Crack - Larsen - C - Peninsula - Crack
In 2010, a large crack formed on Larsen C's western peninsula. The crack grew for years; scientists monitored it for years with satellites as it gradually expanded. A second crack appeared in May 2017, further weakening the shelf.
By June 2017, only 8 miles (13 km) of ice tethered the iceberg-to-be to Larsen C, and when the big break happened between July 10 and July 12 of last year, giant iceberg A-68 was born. When it separated and drifted away from the ice shelf, Larsen C lost approximately 10 percent of its surface area; this is the smallest the...
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