The ice block has a dimension of 1,270 square kilometers. All 12 people from Halley VI station were evacuated
An iceberg the size of the London metropolitan area broke off Antarctica near a British science station. This has long been feared, scientists announced on Friday.
The nearly 1,270-square-kilometer block of ice separated from the rest of the ice cap in the early hours of Friday, according to data collected by British instruments installed near the station.
It does not pose a threat. The 12 people who worked at the Halley VI station, located less than 20 km from the rupture zone, were evacuated by plane in mid-February, the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), a polar research organization that operates installation.
“Our teams have been preparing for years for an iceberg to break off the Brunt Ice Shelf,” explained BAS Director Jane Francis. The crews monitor the progress of the faults “daily” through “an automated network of high-precision GPS instruments around the station,” she explained.
These data, which were sent to the University of Cambridge for analysis, made it possible to give the alert on Friday without anyone being at the scene.
Already in 2017, the BAS had decided to reduce the human presence in this station built in 2012 and move it a few kilometers, fearing that it would end up in an iceberg adrift due to the thaw caused by climate change.
It was a “wise decision,” said Simon Garrod, BAS’s chief operating officer. “Our job now is to closely monitor the situation and assess any potential impact of this detachment on the remaining ice shelf,” he added.
Several scenarios are possible in the coming months: “Either the iceberg moves away or it runs aground and stays close to the Brunt ice shelf,” Francis explained.