Antarctica

Iceberg break-up at the Ekström Ice Shelf and storm at Neumayer Station

[16. August 2021] 

An iceberg broke off the Ekstrom Ice Shelf in Antarctica between 12 and 13 August 2021. The iceberg has not yet been officially named, but will probably be given the name #A77 according to international statutes. It is about 53 km long and has an area of about 370 square kilometres, making it about half the size of Hamburg.

As on all ice shelves, icebergs calve regularly from the Ekström Ice Shelf, the last major calving event in the east of Atka Bay was in 2009. For several years now, @ChristineWesche has been observing the development of the crack in the western Ekström Ice Shelf. Images from the @ESA_de satellite #Sentinel now show its calving.

The calving may have been triggered by a storm that raged in Atka Bay at the end of last week. At the Alfred Wegener Institute's Neumayer Station III, about 20 kilometres away. "During the night from Friday to Saturday, we recorded wind speeds here of max. 94.9 knots (175.7 km/h) on a minute average. The strongest gust was 112 knots (207 km/h or about 50 m/s). This is by far the highest wind speed recorded here in recent years," reports station manager Peter Jonczyk. With wind speeds like that, you can't stand on your own two feet - and that's why you stay at the station. The video from the hospital shows how the whole station vibrated during the storm. However, the wintering team did not directly notice the iceberg breaking up. Neither the station nor the jetty for the supply ships were affected.

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Christine Wesche
+49(471)4831-1967
Christine.Wesche@awi.de

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