The world’s largest iceberg is moving for the first time in more than three decades: it is heading towards the Southern Ocean

The world’s largest iceberg is moving for the first time in more than three decades: it is heading towards the Southern Ocean
Satellite image of the world’s largest iceberg, A23a, in Antarctica, November 15, 2023 (Courtesy of EU/Copernicus Sentinel-3/Handout via Reuters)

The largest iceberg in the world is On the move for the first time in more than three decadesScientists said on Friday.

With nearly 4,000 square kilometres, it is called the Antarctic Iceberg A23a He has approx Three times the size of New York City.

Since breaking off from the Filchner-Rönn Ice Shelf in West Antarctica in 1986, the iceberg, which once housed a Soviet research station, has remained stuck with its base trapped. At the bottom of the Weddell Sea.

But not anymore. Recent satellite images reveal that the iceberg, which weighs nearly one trillion metric tons, is now moving rapidly across the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, aided by strong winds and currents.

According to glaciology Oliver MarshAccording to the British Antarctic Survey, it is rare to see an iceberg of this size moving, so scientists will be monitoring its path closely.

As its speed increases, the massive iceberg will likely push into the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. This will direct it towards the Southern Ocean in a path known as “Ice Alley”where other species of its kind can be found floating in dark waters.

Iceberg A23a extends beyond the Antarctic Peninsula towards the South Atlantic Ocean (Europa Press)

It remains to be seen why the iceberg is fleeing now.

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“Over time, it likely weakened a little and gained more buoyancy, which allowed it to rise from the ocean floor and be pushed by ocean currents,” Marsh explains. And A23a as well One of the oldest icebergs in the world.

A23a may veer off again at South Georgia Island. This would pose a problem for animals in Antarctica. Millions of seals, penguins and seabirds breed on the island and feed in the surrounding waters. The Behemoth A23a can cut off this access.

In 2020, another giant iceberg will appear:… The A68 has raised fears of a collision with South GeorgiaCrushing marine life on the sea floor and cutting off access to food. This disaster was eventually averted when the iceberg broke into smaller pieces, something that could also happen to the A63a.

But “an iceberg of this size could survive for a long time in the Southern Ocean, even though it is warmer, and could make its way north toward South Africa, where it could disrupt shipping,” Marsh says.

(Information from Reuters)

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