Over Christmas 2020, the mega iceberg hit the headlines around the world after coming worryingly close to South Georgia, raising concerns it could damage the fragile ecosystem
In July 2017, the iceberg A68 snapped off the Larsen-C Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula and began its 3.5-year journey across the Southern Ocean.
In 2017, A68 was considered the biggest iceberg yet. By 2022, this'‘mega iceberg’ has released an enormous 152 billion tonnes of freshwater into the ocean. This new data was published in the journal Remote Sensing of Environment by researchers from the University of Leeds.
To put it in context, 152 billion tonnes of water is enough to fill 61 million Olympic-sized swimming pools. The Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM) and British Antarctic Survey (BAS) have used satellite measurements to chart the A68A iceberg’s area and thickness change throughout its life cycle.
According to these experts, the massive iceberg covered an area of nearly 6,000 sq km when it broke free from Antarctica in 2017. This was almost eight times bigger than New York.
Over Christmas 2020, the mega iceberg hit the headlines around the world after coming worryingly close to South Georgia, raising concerns it could damage the fragile ecosystem.
The iceberg started to melt over three months in 2020 and 2021 as it entered the seas around the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia. And by early 2021, the once-biggest iceberg completely vanished into countless small fragments.
The researchers are now trying to determine the environmental impact the iceberg will have on the marine ecosystem. It is assumed that the freshwater inputs by the iceberg will alter local currents.
The iceberg during its life in Antarctica may have contained minerals and organic matter that was typical to that region. Now, the experts fear that these minerals and organic matter may be dropped into a different part of the globe and that could create an ecological imbalance.
As global temperatures increase because of climate change, the Antarctic ice sheets now are facing a greater threat of melting. This can exacerbate sea-level rise and deteriorate the marine ecosystem.
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