A giant chunk of ice has broken off from an ice shelf in the Antarctic, so gigantic that it now qualifies as the world's biggest iceberg, according to the European Space Agency. The berg named A-76 "calved" from the Ronne Ice Shelf in the Weddell Sea. It's about 105 miles long and 15 miles wide, and it has a surface area of almost 1,700 square miles. Various sites were trying to put that in perspective—"a little bigger than the state of Rhode Island" (Scientific American), three times the size of Los Angeles (USA Today), and five times the size of New York City (Earther). The coverage points out that because this iceberg came from an already existing ice shelf, it won't have a direct impact on sea levels.
Scientists also were quick to point out that such calvings are natural occurrences and to caution against immediately pointing the finger at climate change. "A76 and A74 are both just part of natural cycles on ice shelves that hadn’t calved anything big for decades," tweets researcher Laura Gerrish of the British Antarctica Survey. "It’s important to monitor the frequency of all iceberg calving, but these are all expected for now." The A74 reference is to a smaller iceberg that broke off from a different ice shelf in the Weddell Sea earlier this year. At Earther, Molly Taft takes note of the scientists' caution against blaming climate change, but notes generally that "things are a lot less stable in Antarctica since the world started pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere." (Read more Antarctica stories.)