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Iceberg twice the size of Washington, D.C., breaks off Pine Island glacier in Antarctica

  • The Pine Island glacier “is one the fastest-retreating glaciers in Antarctica.”
  • Over the past 8 years, the Pine Island glacier is losing about 58 billion tons of ice per year.
  • This “reveals the dramatic pace at which climate is redefining the face of Antarctica.”

An iceberg twice the size of Washington, D.C., has broken off the Pine Island glacier in Antarctica, scientists reported this week.

“The Pine Island glacier recently spawned an iceberg over (115 square miles) that very quickly shattered into pieces,” the European Space Agency (ESA) said in a statement

The Pine Island glacier “is one of the fastest-retreating glaciers in Antarctica,” according to NASA. The glacier and the nearby Thwaites glacier together contain “enough vulnerable ice to raise global sea level by 1.2 meters (4 feet),” NASA said. 

The Pine Island glacier spawned an iceberg over 115 square miles that quickly shattered into pieces. This image from space shows the freshly broken bergs.

“What you are looking at is both terrifying and beautiful,” Mark Drinkwater, head of the Earth and Mission Sciences Division at the ESA, told CNN. “It is clear from these images (that the Pine Island glacier) is responding to climate change dramatically.” 

The glacier has been losing large chunks of ice over the past three decades. While large calving events like this one used to take place at Pine Island glacier every four to six years, they’re now a nearly annual occurrence, The Washington Post said.