- The world’s largest iceberg is on the move for the first time in more than three decades, scientists say
The world’s largest iceberg is on the move for the first time in more than three decades, scientists said Friday. At almost 4,000 km2 (1,500 miles2), the Antarctic iceberg called A23a is about three times the size of New York City.
Since breaking off from West Antarctica’s Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf in 1986, the iceberg, which once housed a Soviet research station, has remained stranded after its base became trapped at the bottom of the Weddell Sea. .
But not anymore. Recent satellite images reveal that the iceberg, which weighs nearly a trillion metric tons, is now moving rapidly past the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, aided by strong winds and currents.
According to glaciologist Oliver Marsh of the British Antarctic Survey, it is rare to see an iceberg of this size in motion, so scientists will closely monitor its trajectory.
As it gains speed, the colossal iceberg is likely to hurtle toward the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. This will direct it towards the Southern Ocean on a trajectory known as “iceberg alley”, where others of its kind can be found floating in dark waters.
“Over time, it has probably thinned slightly and gained a little more buoyancy that has allowed it to rise from the ocean floor and be pushed by ocean currents,” explains Marsh. A23a is also one of the oldest icebergs in the world.
A23a may run aground again on South Georgia Island. That would be a problem for the fauna of Antarctica.