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Science & Technology

The History of the Iceberg A68A

By Cody Sung

Volume 1 Issue 5

February 12, 2021

The History of the Iceberg A68A

Image provided by English News

To start off here, let’s have a bit of context on icebergs. Icebergs are pieces of ice that broke off from Antartica for multiple reasons. Larger and more frequent ice breaks are oftentimes considered an effect of climate change. They can be an issue to ship traffic and oftentimes wildlife. As well as being a problem for wildlife nearby, melting icebergs cause sea levels to rise. Note that only large icebergs have names, and names vary depending on the original sighting area and child icebergs breaking off (for example, iceberg D300 breaks into iceberg D300A and D300B).

In July 2017, Iceberg A68 breaks off from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antartica, which is expected from scientists, as cracks were visible for months at this point. A couple of years after that, a piece (A68B) separates off from the main iceberg (A68A). This is the start of iceberg A68A proper. A68A continues to move north, just like iceberg A68 when it was named that way. In April 2020, another chunk of ice, A68C breaks off from A68A. There are now 3 icebergs, although the most significant one, A68A, continues its march north.

After this, in the month of November 2020, A68A is now considered a threat to the wildlife on South Georgia Island, which is in the Southern Hemisphere, near Antartica and South America. Local penguins, seals, underwater life, and other wildlife are at risk. In December of 2020, the scientific community believes a collision is now almost inevitable, at less than 31 miles away. Later in December, A68A scrapes the seabed near South Georgia Island, causing iceberg A68D to come off. Later in the month, a few days before Christmas, icebergs A68E and A68F break off A68A. A68A starts to fall apart faster compared to before, as the warmer weather up north finally starts to kick in. In January 2021, A68G splits off from A68A. This is the end of the road for iceberg A68A, as the complete breakup of the iceberg is almost inevitable given the conditions.

As of right now, A68A has vastly diminished from its size when it was the largest iceberg in the world, about the size of New Jersey. The iceberg will continue to diminish in size as it is facing warmer temperatures and harsher conditions. It was once considered a major threat to wildlife on South Georgia Island, and even scraped the bed of the island, but is now a diminishing iceberg. The sheer size of the iceberg when it broke from Antartica has raised a debate over the possibility that climate change had a role in this, and if we’ll see more massive bergs like this in the future. For now, only time will tell what will happen to Earth’s icebergs.

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