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Iceberg calving explained

While examining satellite sea ice data, Nighat Amin of the International Polar Foundation spotted that a 70 km2 iceberg had calved off the tip of the King Baudouin Ice Shelf in late January. We interviewed glaciologists Frank Pattyn and Reinhard Drews, who have both been studying the ice shelf for some time.

Calving as a natural phenomenon

Ice shelves losing ice is a completely natural phenomenon, and glaciologists closely track the pace at which this happens. In the case of the King Baudouin Ice Shelf, the last major calving hasn't happened since the 1960s. What we witnessed here was a natural, albeit rare, event.

No immediate threat

Both Frank Pattyn and Reinhard Drews from the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) were quite confident in saying that, according the current data they have, there is no sign of acceleration of ice discharge from this particular ice shelf, and it remains relatively stable.

Whether that stability will remain true for the coming decades will largely depend on the way climate change may affect that particular part of East Antarctica.

Video: © International Polar Foundation / Joseph Cheek / Fares Manners

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