A huge piece of ice recently broke off an ice shelf in Antarctica and is currently the largest iceberg in the world. The iceberg, known as the A-76, is around 4,320 square kilometers in size. With a length of 170 km and a width of 25 km, the iceberg is slightly larger than the Spanish island of Mallorca and larger than the US state of Rhode Island.
A-76 was captured by ESA’s Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellite in the image above. Below is an animation of the iceberg calving from the Ronne Ice Shelf.
This animation of images from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission shows the giant sheet of ice breaking off the Ronne Ice Shelf in the Weddell Sea on May 13, 2021. Photo credit: ESA
While A-76 is huge, it’s not the biggest at all. It’s only about a third the size of the largest iceberg in history, B-15, which calved from Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf 21 years ago. The B-15 iceberg was covering more than 10,878 square kilometers when it broke off, according to NASA’s Earth Observatory
The iceberg was discovered by the British Antarctic Survey and confirmed with the Copernicus Sentinel-1 images. The Sentinel-1 mission consists of two satellites with polar orbit, which are based on radar images with synthetic aperture in the C-band and can record images day and night. This enables an almost constant year-round observation of remote regions such as the Antarctic.
Icebergs are named after the Antarctic quadrant in which they were originally sighted, and then with a sequential number when the iceberg breaks off. Antarctica is divided into quadrants, with the letters A, B, C and D used to denote the different regions. The A-76 was discovered in the Bellingshausen / Weddell Sea quadrant and was the 76th iceberg tracked by the US National Ice Center.