Massive iceberg swings away from Antarctic peninsula entering open water

Second largest ice-berg ever recorded on path to Atlantic Ocean

Harriet Agerholm
Monday 25 September 2017 23:51 BST
A composite image of the A68 iceberg on 13 and 16 September showing it is heading out to sea
A composite image of the A68 iceberg on 13 and 16 September showing it is heading out to sea (European Space Agency)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


A giant iceberg in the Antarctic has finally begun its journey into open water.

It follows weeks where the block stayed almost static, simply drifting to and from the ice shelf it broke away from.

Now the southern tip of the A68 berg has swung away from the Larsen C shelf.

Currents in the Weddell Sea should next push the tip of the 5,800 sq tonne berg north, experts have said.

The block, which weighs a trillion tonnes, is expected to drift along the shelf edge until it reaches the Antarctic Circumpolar Current — which travels east.

The current would then take the second largest iceberg ever recorded out into the South Atlantic.

The massive ice block is four-times the size of London, but is still only about half the size of the largest ever iceberg, which broke away from the Ross Ice Shelf in 2000.

Professor Stef Lhermitte, of Delfte University in the Netherlands, marked the event on Twitter with a gif showing the progress of the berg, saying: "From rift-2-drift".

There is concern that the iceberg could break into pieces too small to track by satellite. These could pose a risk to ships in the area.

Scientists said they do not believe global warming played a role in the calving of the berg, although climate change has been blamed for the collapse of surrounding ice shelves.

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