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Montevideo, August 4th 2020 - 17:28 UTC

 

 

The world's biggest iceberg, 6.000 sq km, is about to enter the open ocean heading for South Georgia

Thursday, February 6th 2020 - 09:03 UTC
Full article 21 comments
A68 split from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in July 2017. For a year, it hardly moved, its keel apparently grounded on the seafloor. A68 split from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in July 2017. For a year, it hardly moved, its keel apparently grounded on the seafloor.

A68, a colossus that broke free from the Antarctic in 2017, has pushed so far north it is now at the limit of the continent's perennial sea-ice. When it calved, the berg had an area close to 6,000 sq km and has lost very little of its bulk over the past two and a half years.

But scientists say A68 will struggle to maintain its integrity when it reaches the Southern Ocean's rougher waters.

“With a thickness to length ratio akin to five sheets of A4, I am astonished that the ocean waves haven't already made ice cubes out of A68,” said Professor Adrian Luckman from Swansea University.

“If it survives for long as one piece when it moves beyond the edge of the sea-ice, I will be very surprised,” he told BBC News. A68 split from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in July 2017. For a year, it hardly moved, its keel apparently grounded on the seafloor.

But the prevailing winds and currents eventually began to push it northwards along the eastern coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, and during this summer season the drift has undergone a rapid acceleration.

The iceberg, currently at 63 degrees South latitude, is following a very predictable course.

When it pops above the tip of the peninsula, the massive block should be swept northwards towards the Atlantic - a path researchers refer to as “Iceberg Alley”.

Many of Antarctica's greatest bergs even make it as far - and beyond - the British Overseas Territory of South Georgia at roughly 54 degrees South.

The biggest ever recorded iceberg in the modern era was the 11,000-sq-km block called B15, which calved from the Ross Ice Shelf in 2000. One of its last remnants, now measuring “just” 200 sq km, is halfway to the South Sandwich Islands, east of South Georgia.

Objects this big have to be constantly monitored because they pose a risk to shipping. Satellite images, like the ones shown on this page, are the obvious way to do this.

While they keep an eye on A68, scientists are also watching for two other, soon-to-birth bergs. One is about to come off the front of Pine Island Glacier in the West Antarctic. This will be a little over 300 sq km when it calves. The block is already riven with many cracks.

“I expect that the new iceberg will break into many pieces soon after it calves,” said Prof Luckman. The other imminent large berg is forming in eastern Antarctica, on the edge of the Brunt Ice Shelf. This should be about 1,500 sq km - roughly the area of Greater London.(BBC).

Top Comments

Disclaimer & comment rules
  • Roger Lorton

    Population, Morecrap? Are you referring to the trespassers from BA? Or those few settlers that were there with British permission?

    Feb 10th, 2020 - 10:30 pm +3
  • Roger Lorton

    Neutral Gullible? My research leads me to conclude that Argentina has no case to argue. Having learned that, why should I not say it?

    Still no idea why you are fixated with my politics or my location, Gullible. You really should explain.

    Feb 07th, 2020 - 06:16 am +2
  • Roger Lorton

    Bet Argentina claims it

    :-)

    Feb 06th, 2020 - 10:21 pm +1
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