The giant “A-68” iceberg is today at the heart of concerns. It melted over 150 billion tons of fresh water.
In 2017, the giant iceberg “A-68” broke off the Antarctic waterfront. This huge block of ice has since drifted, keeping pace with ocean currents. As it moved north, it began to melt. Today scientists estimate its size at around 4200 km2. By way of comparison, Luxembourg measures only 2500 km2 and Cyprus 5000 km2.
It is therefore a huge block of ice that is now heading straight for the British Isles of South Georgia. These Crown possessions are located at the very south of the Atlantic Ocean. They are today indirectly threatened by this iceberg which is literally in the process of melting on them.
A cast that worries the whole world
As the waters around the huge block of ice get warmer, the iceberg is melting faster and faster. Scientists have also come, thanks to satellite readings, to assess the level of melting of the iceberg since its release from the ice front in 2017.
According to analyses, the block would therefore have lost nearly 150 billion tonnes of fresh water. A quantity comparable to the water consumption of France over two years (75 billion tonnes per year according to figures from the University of Twente in the Netherlands). This quantity of fresh water, directly lost in the expanses of the Atlantic and Antarctic oceans, raises many questions, in particular on the disturbance of the seabed.
Scientists are worried about the arrival of so much fresh water at a targeted point in the ocean. This quantity of water, capable of filling a pool 5 kilometers across and higher than Mont-Blanc, will become a real problem in the coming years for the region’s oceanic flora and fauna.
An imbalance in the seabed of the region
Indeed, fresh water provides many nutrients that boost fish populations. But it also has the perverse effect of reducing the impact of deep currents, which are often the access routes for predators. The risk is therefore that the edges of the islands of South Georgia will become overcrowded, with predators completely absent.
While the iceberg is now only 400 kilometers from the coast, its trajectory is far from ideal. It is heading straight for the shallow waters of the coast, an area of the ocean where it could run aground. Such a tragedy could then completely melt the iceberg, which could even have an effect on sea levels on a planetary scale!
Scientists are now considering the best way to drift this huge block of ice, and the waters of the South Georgia Islands will be scrutinized very closely in the coming years.