An iceberg called A23a, weighing a billion tons, has begun moving into Antarctica. Its path will be closely monitored as it may interfere with sea routes or local wildlife.
It is 38 times larger than Paris. The world’s largest iceberg is moving for the first time in more than three decades. This planet is called A23a, and its area is about 4,000 square kilometers and weighs one billion tons in the heart of Antarctica, the melting of which raises the concern of all scientists. It is rare to see an iceberg of this size moving, notes Oliver Marsh, a glaciologist at the British Antarctic Survey, so scientists will be monitoring its path closely.
A23a broke off from the Filchner-Ronne ice shelf in West Antarctica in 1986. Since then, its submerged portion, the largest of the icebergs, has been stuck to the bottom of the Weddell Sea and remains stationary. It even once hosted a Soviet research station. Recent satellite images reveal that it is now drifting rapidly across the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, aided by strong winds and currents. “Over time, it likely thinned out a bit and gained a little extra buoyancy that allowed it to rise off the ocean floor and be pushed around by ocean currents.”“, argued Oliver Marsh. A23a is one of the oldest icebergs in the world.
This giant will likely find itself stuck in what scientists call the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. This will direct it towards the Southern Ocean on a route known as “Icy Ice Alley,” where more of its kind can be found floating in the dark waters. but “An iceberg of this size has the potential to remain for a long time in the Southern Ocean, even if it is warmer, and could move north towards South Africa where it could disrupt shipping.”Oliver Marsh said.
Another possibility is that it may be banned again, this time on the island of South Georgia. This would pose a problem for Antarctic wildlife. Millions of seals, penguins and seabirds breed on the island and feed in the surrounding waters. The A23a can cut off this access.
In 2020, another giant iceberg, A68, raised fears it could collide with South Georgia, crushing marine life on the sea floor and cutting off access to food. Such a disaster was eventually averted when the iceberg broke into smaller pieces – a likely end for the A23a as well.