WORLD’S LARGEST ICEBERG BREAKS APART MENACING SOUTHERN OCEAN

27 DEC 2020 

Britain’s Royal Air Force released new images of the world’s largest iceberg reporting significant changes confirmed by the British Forces South Atlantic Islands (BFSAI) during its routine patrols of the region. Using an RAF Airbus 400M the crew was able to investigate and photograph changes to the berg known simply as A68a.

Confirmed by recent satellite imagery and overflights by the RAF, the berg is believed to have grounded on the oceanic shelf as it approached South Georgia island and has begun to break apart into several large sections.

BFSAI reports that as the current around South Georgia spun the iceberg, a large section broke off. A new section estimated to measure approximately 55 square miles calved from the northern section of A68a and has now been designated A68d. It is currently approximately 30 nautical miles away from South Georgia.

 

The original berg, A68a, broke away from the Antarctica ice shelf in July 2017. At the time, scientists estimated its size at nearly 6,000 sq km (approximately 2,300 sq. miles). They said it could weigh more than one trillion tons. Over the past three years, scientists have been closely tracking its progress as it slowly drifts towards the British islands. While the berg decreased by a third to approximately 4,200 sq km (1,600 sq miles) it remained the largest known piece to have broken from the ice shelf in Antarctica. The recent observations reported that A68a continues to drift on the Southern Ocean current on an easterly course. 

Commenting on his observations of A68a on this particular sortie, Corporal Philip Dye, BFSAI photographer, said ‘’’It was evident as we rounded the south-eastern corner of South Georgia that the amount of bergy bits and debris had increased significantly in comparison to the previous sorties.’’

The increased number of pieces of ice, which are smaller than the two primary bergs, are considered a menace to shipping and may also pose a threat to the wildlife in the waters and that live in and around the islands.

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