According to a study published around the beginning of January 2022, the former largest iceberg in the world, named A68a, is currently continuing to melt in the ocean. Recently, this phenomenon generated the release of 152 billion tons of fresh water in the vicinity of the subantarctic island of South Georgia.
This huge amount of fresh water released would have a huge impact on the ecosystem and wildlife in this region. This led researcher Anne Braakmann-Folgmann to conduct the study in question with the aim of identifying possible impacts.
The course of the iceberg A68a
The giant iceberg A68a formed in Antarctica in 2017 after breaking away from the ice shelf called Larsen-C. A68a was the largest iceberg on the planet at the time of its formation. From there, the scientists did not stop following the evolution of the block of ice.
After its formation, the iceberg remained floating in the vicinity of the Weddell Sea. It then crossed the Drake Passage between the southern part of South America and the northern part of Antarctica to end its journey near South Georgia Island in December 2020.
The possible impacts of the melting of the A68a iceberg on the environment
Approaching South Georgia Island, A68a raised fears among researchers about the impact it could have on the local environment. Scientists were mainly concerned that the submerged part of the iceberg would wash up on the seabed, and block currents and routes used by predators. But according to the British Antarctic Survey, that’s not what happened.
When iceberg A68a encountered the warmer waters of the Drake Passage, it began to melt rapidly over a three-month period between 2020 and 2021. The large volume of fresh water generated by this melt eventually impacted the ecosystem. of the region.
Anne Braakmann-Folgmann thus plans to conduct other studies to determine exactly the impacts of this melting on the site’s ecosystem. The researcher also indicated that the path followed by A68a through the Drake Passage could also help researchers learn more about future icebergs and their influence on the polar oceans.
SOURCE: The Verge