General, Research, Technology

The world's largest iceberg began to collapse

In July 2017, from the ice shelf toAntarctica separated a huge iceberg, which was given the name A68a. It turned out to be twice as large as Moscow - its surface area was 6,000 square kilometers. Scientists expected that soon it will disintegrate into several parts. But in reality, the giant block of ice only slightly lost its mass. At the moment, the area of ​​the iceberg A68a is 4200 square kilometers and he's heading towards the British South IslandGeorge in the South Atlantic. Recently, British Air Force pilots were able to photograph different parts of the iceberg and make some interesting discoveries. Earlier I wrote that this iceberg poses some danger and, it seems, this is the truth.

Iceberg А68а, photo dated December 4, 2020

The most dangerous iceberg

Photos of the largest iceberg in the worldshared the BBC News. At first, the iceberg that broke away from Antarctica collapsed very slowly, but the pilots of the A400M aircraft found that the process had accelerated noticeably some time ago. The photographs taken by them show that large faults and cracks have formed on the ice surface. And on the underwater part of the iceberg, you can see the presence of whole tunnels. The edges of the iceberg are gradually breaking off, so it is surrounded by a large number of ice blocks. Some of them are very large and their trajectory must be carefully monitored. It is believed that they can pose a danger to ships.

One of the fragments of the iceberg A68a

For 3 years of its existence, iceberg A68aswam about 1050 kilometers. At the moment, he has only 200 kilometers left to overcome and he will reach the islands of South Georgia. Therefore, scientists fear that very soon the iceberg will settle in shallow water near the island. Since these places are home to a huge number of king penguins and albatrosses, the animals can have serious problems. The fact is that during the hunt they will have to bypass the iceberg, and this can take a very long time. Animals simply may not have time to eat and feed their young.

The iceberg can have a huge impact on how and what animals eat, ”explained Geraint Tarling, UK Antarctic Survey Officer.

Also, a huge iceberg can be harmfulorganisms that live in water. If crushed by a block of ice, the ecosystem of South Georgia will suffer a double blow. If this happens, the animal world will have to recover, but no one knows yet whether it will work out. The fact is that the iceberg will be able to completely melt only after about 10 years. And all this time it will be extremely difficult for the animals to live.

See also: What are green icebergs made of and what are they for?

How to avoid a disaster?

The taken pictures have already been transferred to the SouthGeorge. According to Commander Michael Wilkinson, the A400M is able to fly closer to the iceberg and take additional pictures. But for this you need to wait for ideal weather conditions without strong gusts of wind and other dangerous phenomena. The images taken can help predict the future trajectory of the iceberg and avoid negative consequences.

Iceberg A68a is surrounded by smaller blocks of ice

There is little hope that over timethe iceberg will change its trajectory. Earlier, cartographer Peter Fretwell shared that at one moment a huge block of ice can make a loop and not reach the islands. In this case, warm waters can meet on its way, which can accelerate melting.

This is how the tunnels under the iceberg look

The number of icebergs on Earth is constantly changing.Typically, large chunks of ice form in Antarctica, the Arctic and Greenland. They are carried from the seas to the oceans by currents and wind. The largest icebergs break away from the glaciers of Antarctica. Over the past few years, at least 17 large icebergs have formed there, one of which is the aforementioned A68a.

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As a rule, large icebergs are found onsatellite imagery. So, in 2019, researchers from NASA Earth Observatory found an ice block with an area of ​​1.7 thousand square kilometers. That is, in size it can be compared with London or the African country of Mauritius. You can read more about this iceberg in this article.

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