On Tuesday, a 350 metre long and 380 metre wide iceberg broke off Chile’s Grey Glacier, located in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, in the Magallanes region.

On their social media platforms, the National Forest Corporation (Conaf) shared images of the glacier’s fracture. Park rangers took pictures of the event moments after it happened.

The head of Conaf’s local branch, María Elisabeth Muñoz, said that the fracture could be related to high temperatures in recent years and that as soon as they heard about the situation they contacted the corresponding authorities, El Magallánico reported.

Muñoz added that she informed the Chilean Antarctic Institute (Inach), organism that assured a full satellite monitoring was to be established so as to determine both the real dimensions and the effects of the break-off.

In light of this, the current head of the Metropolitan region’s Government, former mayor and former minister of Housing and National Assets, Claudio Orrego, stated on his official Twitter account that measures to combat climate change should be doubled.

Experts’ comments

In conversation with BioBioChile, Francisco Ferrado, glaciologist from the University of Chile, explained that the glacier ends on a lake, so part of it is constantly floating, including the iceberg that broke off.

Ferrado assured that this is a result of climate change and that this process is irreversible.

Ferrado, professor at the university’s School of Architecture and Urbanism, detailed that the glacier lost both stability and width, specially from beneath.

Considering the glacier’s weakening, “it makes it prone to the effect of the water movement where it floats. In this context, it is easy that the front of a glacier breaks. This is evidence that global warming is affecting all glaciers”, Ferrado added.

Regarding the surface of the iceberg, he estimated that it could make up to 20% of the entire area of the glacier. However, “you have to consider that we can only see what is above water, which generally is only 1/9 of the entire mass”, he warned.