Watch As 315-Billion-Ton "Molar Berg" Breaks Off Antarctica

Iceberg D28, aka Molar Berg, was captured by the satellite Sentinel 2 October 9, 2019. Iban Ameztoy/Flickr

That 315-billion-ton iceberg is not ready to give up its spot in the limelight just yet. D-28, the massive iceberg that calved away from the Amery ice shelf in Antarctica about two weeks ago, was recently spotted by satellites breaking off the coast of Antarctica.

Named D-28 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the iceberg became the largest to calve from the icy continent in more than half a century when it broke off on September 25. D-28 was unofficially nicknamed “Molar Berg” when it calved away from a region of ice that resembles a “loose tooth” from space. The US National Ice Center officially named the 30-by-19 nautical mile iceberg D-28, currently located in the Prydz Bay of the America Sea and drifting northwest off the coast of the icy continent.

The clear image was captured by the Sentinel-1 satellite, a member of the European Space Agency’s “family of satellites” that compiles aerial data for “robust datasets for Copernicus Services”. Sentinel-1 is one of six satellites with a mission of orbiting the polar region to provide day-and-night radar for land and ocean services.



Experts advise that calving events like this one are normal and unlikely to be a result of climate change. Amery Ice Shelf, a large portion of floating ice that spreads out over the water, drains roughly 16 percent of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet and deposits ice into the ocean via a “natural, cyclical process of iceberg calving – a process that can take decades to complete,” notes the NASA Earth Observatory. Icebergs will break away from their host ice shelves due to a variety of factors that can influence the pressure put on a large mass of ice.



“Glaciologists are not alarmed about most of these processes; they are examples of Antarctica simply doing what we know Antarctica has done for thousands of years,” wrote glaciologist Professor Helen Fricker in an article for The Guardian in 2017.

Experts first observed the iceberg in 2002 and had anticipated a calving event in the decades that followed. Monitoring D-28 and other icebergs in the region will be a key component of satellite imagery as the large ice chunks can pose a danger to ships that navigate through Antarctic waters, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.


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