A-68a, the colossal iceberg that separated from Antarctica three years ago, is no longer so colossal. Since 2017 it has been drifting across the South Atlantic, moving further and further away from the South Pole. As it has, it has also lost volume and has even begun to fracture. Now, threatens to collide with South Georgia, an island roughly the same size as the iceberg itself.

Thanks to ESA satellite images we have been able to closely follow the evolution of the iceberg. A-68a broke away from the Antarctic Larsen-C Ice Shelf in July 2017. Many icebergs break off each year, but none as big as A-68a. For three years it has wandered more than 1,000 kilometers and it was predicted that the currents would carry it towards a warmer area to end up melting. About.

As ESA indicated a few days ago, the iceberg has split into four smaller pieces these days. A-68a is now accompanied by A-68e and A-68f. If you wonder about A-68b and A-68c, they were previously separated from the main iceberg. For its part, A-68d recently lagged behind as well.

ESA data estimate that the iceberg, in addition to fragmenting, is losing about 2.5 centimeters every day. The ESA team calculated that A-68 originally covered about 5,664 km2 with an average thickness of 232 m. Throughout its more than three years adrift, it has split more than once. The main block (A-68a) now only measures about 2,600 km2.

A (possible) clash with South Georgia

The fragmentation of the gigantic iceberg is good and not so good at the same time. On the one hand, there is the fact that such a large mass of ice is lost, largely due to climatic factors that have affected Antarctica in recent years. On the other hand, however, it is to a certain extent good that it fragments and melts as soon as possible. Reason? It can hit South Georgia.

South Georgia is a small British island in the South Atlantic and halfway up the A-68a. In turn, it is also one of the largest marine conservation areas in the world. If you get too close you can run aground in the shallow waters around the island. And this is a disaster for the marine fauna and flora of the place. Such a large mass of ice changes the temperature and destroys feeding patterns of all kinds of living beings in the area.

So is it good for it to melt? Yes, but as soon as possible and completely. As its submerged part melts, it also melts and loses depth. This means that you can get even closer to the coast of the island and therefore run aground closer from where the nucleus of fauna and flora is located. In addition, throughout this process it releases fresh water that changes the salinity of the ocean in that area.

ESA has been tracking the path of icebergs in the area for decades, and in a way, most of the time, they have circled the island without being trapped there. However, there is nothing certain in this regard, beyond the fact that sooner or later A-68 and all its fragments are going to melt. If it destroys part of South Georgia in its path, it is something we will have to wait to see.

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