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How the world’s largest iceberg broke off in Antarctica

While regular shearing off of large chunks of the ice shelves is part of a natural cycle, some shelves have experienced rapid break up in the last few years due to global warming

The world’s largest iceberg — thrice the size of Delhi — has broken off from Antarctica last week. It split off the western side of the Ronne Ice Shelf in Antarctica’s Weddell Sea, the European Space Agency (ESA) informed.

The iceberg, named A-76, has a surface area of around 4,320 square kilometres, making it the biggest berg currently afloat in the world. A-76 split from the Ronne Ice Shelf and was first spotted by the British Antarctic Survey. The Ronne Ice Shelf is one of the biggest of several gigantic floating sheets of ice that connect to the continent’s landmass and extend out into the surrounding seas.

While regular shearing off of large chunks of the ice shelves is part of a natural cycle, some shelves have experienced rapid break up in the last few years due to global warming. The Antarctic ice sheet is warming faster than the rest of the planet, causing melting of snow and ice covers, especially around the Weddell Sea.

Another big Antarctic iceberg that had threatened a penguin-populated island in South America has since lost much of its mass and broken into pieces. Average sea levels have risen about nine inches since 1880, and about a quarter of that increase comes from ice melting in the Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets, according to a study published in the journal Nature earlier this month.

The study by 84 scientists from 15 countries concluded that the more ambitious national goals to slow down climate change set recently are not enough to stop sea levels from rising.

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