An iceberg that just broke off from an ice shelf in Antarctica is 2,200 square miles on its surface. Of course that sounds massive, but how big is it compared to the sizes of things that are more familiar?
In U.S. newspapers, the iceberg has been referred to as being the size of Delaware. It snapped off the Larsen C ice shelf in the western part of the continent earlier this week, after a crack in the shelf grew for months while scientists watched. It’s 1,100 feet thick and weighs more than 1 trillion tons, making it one of the largest icebergs ever reported. In fact, it’s so large that maps of Antarctica will have to be redrawn.
Its water volume is so huge that it could fill Lake Erie twice.
Although the name is not official yet, scientists might call the iceberg A68. It could stay in one piece, but it’s also possible that the oblong iceberg will break into chunks and drift into warmer waters, where it could cause trouble for ships.
The state of things
Although this iceberg is popularly being compared to Delaware, that is not the smallest of the United States. Delaware has about 1,000 square miles on Rhode Island, which means the iceberg would dwarf that coastal state.
Only in New York
The five boroughs of New York City are a fraction of the size of this iceberg. Their roughly 8.5 million residents squeeze into an area that is about 300 square miles — this measurement doesn’t include the greater metropolitan area — so you could fit more than seven New York Cities on top of A68.
A tall tale
The iceberg’s 2,200 square miles of surface area translates to 61.3 billion square feet. The Burj Khalifa, the tallest structure in the world, with its 163 floors that reach more than 2,700 feet into the atmosphere and pierce the clouds, reportedly has a floor space upward of 3.3 million square feet. If you were to take out that floor space and lay it all out, it would take you almost 18,600 Burj Khalifas to cover the entire surface of the A68 iceberg.
Climb every mountain
The peak of Mount Everest is the highest above sea level than any other land on Earth, but it is still only about 29,000 feet up — roughly 5.5 miles. This iceberg that just calved off Antarctica is closer to 100 miles long.
An Olympic champion
One estimate puts the water volume of the A68 iceberg at 277 cubic miles. An Olympic swimming pool holds roughly 88,000 cubic feet, meaning you could use the water from the iceberg to fill more than 460 million of those pools — definitely more than the world will ever need to host races.
Moving to the big city
How many of the world’s most famous cities could fit on top of the A68 iceberg? You could jam Hong Kong, London, Paris and Rome in there all at once. You could cram almost 13,000 Vatican Cities on top of it. You could shove Tokyo, New Delhi, Cairo, Johannesburg and Rio de Janeiro into that space at the same time. You could comfortably fit Madrid, Mexico City, Warsaw, Tehran, Manila, Auckland, Nairobi and Budapest together.