The world’s biggest iceberg is on the move after 30 years; Read to know the concerns and what’s next

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  • The iceberg, named A23a, is finally on the move after being stuck to the ocean floor for more than 30 years. 
  • A23a is a massive iceberg that is more than twice the size of Greater London, covering an area of about 4,000 square kilometers. 
  • The iceberg, formerly part of Antarctica, is finally on the move after being stuck to the ocean floor for more than 30 years. 
  • The iceberg broke away from the Antarctic coast in 1986, but it became stuck in the Weddell Sea and resembled a sort of “ice island.” 
  • Experts are predicting that the huge iceberg will be thrown towards the southern South Atlantic Ocean. 
  • The importance of icebergs to the environment cannot be understated, notwithstanding possible disturbances. 

Scientists around the world are concentrating on the world’s largest iceberg which was formerly part of Antarctica. The iceberg, named A23a, is finally on the move after being stuck to the ocean floor for more than 30 years. A23a is a massive iceberg that is more than twice the size of Greater London, covering an area of about 4,000 square kilometers.

The iceberg broke away from the Antarctic coast in 1986, but it became stuck in the Weddell Sea and resembled a sort of “ice island.” It was part of a massive berg outburst from the Filchner Ice Shelf on the White Continent. Its hosting of a Soviet research station at the time only serves to highlight how long ago its calving took place.

Fearing that the equipment at the Druzhnaya One base would be lost, Moscow sent out an expedition to retrieve it. The tabular berg, however, didn’t travel far from the coast before its thick keel fixed it firmly to the bottom muds of the Weddell.

Dr Andrew Fleming, a remote sensing expert from the British Antarctic Survey told BBC News, “I asked a couple of colleagues about this, wondering if there was any possible change in shelf water temperatures that might have provoked it, but the consensus is the time had just come. It was grounded since 1986 but eventually, it was going to decrease (in size) sufficiently to lose grip and start moving. I spotted the first movement back in 2020.”

The winds and currents in recent months have accelerated the movement of A23a.  Weddell sector icebergs, such as A23a, typically follow the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and pass via “iceberg alley,” a route that explorer Ernest Shackleton took in 1916 following the sinking of his ship, the Endurance.

Experts are predicting that the huge iceberg will be thrown towards the southern South Atlantic Ocean, close to the island of South Georgia, which is home to large icebergs sitting offshore. Millions of seals, penguins, and other birds live on this island.

There is concern that A23a could disrupt South Georgia Island’s ecology if it gets close to the island. The regular feeding routes of seals, penguins, and seabirds may be disturbed if grounding occurs in this area.

 The importance of icebergs to the environment cannot be understated, notwithstanding possible disturbances. Mineral dust, essential nutrients that maintain the base of seafood cycles, is released as they melt. Scientists are now keeping a careful eye on A23a’s progress.

 

(With inputs from agencies)

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