An Iceberg Once The Size Of Delaware Sank Into The Ocean, Dumping Roughly 1 Trillion Tonnes Of Water

Scientists discovered that what was once the world’s largest iceberg released over 165 billion tonnes of freshwater during three months and roughly one trillion tonnes over its lifetime, which might have major effects on biodiversity. Before breaking off in July 2017, the A68A iceberg was part of the Larsen-C Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula. It was the world’s largest iceberg at the time, covering 2,210 square miles, more than the state of Delaware. The iceberg, however, began to float across the Southern Ocean when it split off. The iceberg began approaching South Georgia Island, about 1,310 miles off the coast of Argentina, in December 2020. Many animals, including penguins and seals, call the island home.

According to scientists, the iceberg broke apart just as it was about to crash onto the seafloor. A crash might have wreaked havoc on the island’s ecosystem, as well as killed species. A group of international experts then used three satellites to assess the area size and two satellites to check the thickness of the iceberg since it originally broke off almost three years ago. During three months, the iceberg spilled almost 165 billion tonnes of water around the island, according to the study.

That amount of water would be enough to fill 61 million Olympic-sized swimming pools. In a statement, Anne Braakmann-Folgmann, a researcher at the University of Leeds in England and the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling, remarked, “This is a significant amount of meltwater.” The iceberg’s migration from the icy seas of the Drake Passage to the milder waters of the Scotia Sea near the island caused the melting. The iceberg’s thickness decreased from 770 feet to 220 feet when it approached the island, the majority of which occurred between November 2020 and January 2021.

It had melted by April 2021, resulting in the loss of 990 billion tonnes of ice along its 2,480-mile trip when it initially broke off in 2017. Each month, 23 feet of ice evaporated at its height. Fortunately, the melting was sufficient to shatter the iceberg, making it “less of a worry in terms of blocking” the island, but it might still have tremendous consequences. The chilly freshwater drifts with the ocean currents, releasing nutrients into the seas as it mixes with the salty warm waters. According to scientists, this will alter or develop new plankton in the area, which will have an impact on the local food chain. It’s yet unclear what this means for the ecosystem in the long run.

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