The biggest iceberg in the world is moving for the first time in over 30 years, scientists reported on Friday.
The Antarctic Iceberg named A23a spans 4000 km2 or 1500 square miles, making it three times the size of New York City.It broke off from the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf in 1986, and after that, it hosted the Soviet Research Station. However, it is stranded after its bottom got stuck on the Weddell Sea floor.
However, it is not stuck anymore.Satellite imagery has confirmed that the iceberg, weighing a trillion metric tonnes, is now moving swiftly past the northern end of the Antarctic Peninsula, thanks to strong winds and currents.Oliver Marsh, British Antarctic Survey Glaciologist, said it is rare to see such a gigantic iceberg moving. Hence, the scientific community is tracking the iceberg’s movements closely.As it gathers steam, there are chances that it might come into contact with the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which will turn it towards the Southern Ocean, a path called the Ice Berg Alley where many icebergs can be found floating.Marsh said that with time, the iceberg probably thinned down and gained some buoyancy, enabling it to rise from the ocean floor and move due to ocean currents.
However, what makes it special is the iceberg’s age, as it is one of the oldest such formations in the world.
However, A23a would probably ground again at South Georgia Island, which could threaten the wildlife in Antarctica since millions of penguins, seabirds, and dolphins breed on the landmass and search for food in the waters. This gigantic iceberg could cut off their access to the waters.A giant iceberg stirred similar fears in 2020 when it was thought to bump into South Georgia; however, this never happened since it broke into smaller pieces, a fate that could be shared by A23a as well.
However, Marsh has predicted that this iceberg is quite big and could survive in the warmer Southern Ocean for a long time, finally making its way upwards to South Africa, where it could even cause problems in shipping and navigation.
Source : Reuters, US news