A British Air Force aircraft has taken new pictures of the world’s largest iceberg floating east of Argentina across the southern Atlantic. The iceberg known as the A68a is so large – it is 4,200 square kilometers – that it cannot be fully seen in a single photo.
However, the state of preservation is deteriorating: the pictures show several cracks and fissures, countless pieces of ice that have detached from the main block, and what appear to be tunnels under the surface of the water.
The iceberg coming from Antarctica is currently heading for the islands of South Georgia, a British overseas territory in the South Atlantic. The A68a is currently only 200km from one of the islands, and there is a real chance it will get stuck in the shallow coastal waters.
To assess the risks of the situation, a British Air Force reconnaissance flight was sent to the scene. “I know I am speaking for the entire team when I say this is certainly a unique and memorable assignment,” wrote Mission Head Commander Michael Wilkinson on Facebook.
Satellite imagery taken in the past few weeks also shows that the edges of the A68a are falling apart quickly. In a rising global temperature scenario, the constant action of ocean waves causes countless small fragments of the iceberg to loosen. However, some parts are not that small and need to be monitored due to the risk they can pose to navigation.
The new images from the reconnaissance flight will be analyzed to predict how the iceberg will behave in the coming weeks and months. The iceberg is carried by rapid seawater that can “loop” the ice block into the southern part of South Georgia.
There is great interest in whether the iceberg would then land on the territory – by the way, the iceberg has a similar territorial size to the island. In this case, penguins and seals on the island can find it very difficult to fish in the sea.
The A68a broke off an ice pack in Antarctica in July 2017. Back then it was even bigger: it was 6,000 square kilometers in size. Nevertheless, experts are surprised that the iceberg has not lost any more ice. Many believed that he would be even smaller now.
BBC News Brazil