Large chunk of iceberg spills billions of tons of water into the ocean

In 2017, one of the largest icebergs in the world – iceberg A-68 in Antarctica – followed the path of all the boy bands and broke up. The solo career of one of the pieces of this huge block of ice, A-68a, was heartbreaking. The ancient piece of pack ice, which once spanned 2,240 square miles and 761 feet thick, drifted dangerously close to South Georgia Island – threatening to scrape the seabed in the process – before finally turn off. But, while the main crisis was averted when the iceberg missed South Georgia and managed to avoid getting stuck, the impact of this massive displaced block of ice is only just beginning to be understood.

On Thursday, the European Space Agency revealed that the A-68a had flooded the ocean. As the iceberg melts from the warmer waters it currently rests in, it released 168 billion tons of fresh water. According to the University of Leeds, that’s about 20 times the amount of water that fills Loch Ness, more than it would take to fill 61 million Olympic swimming pools. It’s a lot.

It’s also not great for the surrounding ecosystems in South Georgia. While the melt, which was identified by the Center for Polar Observation and Modeling (CPOM) and the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) via satellite measurements, was likely necessary to prevent the iceberg from scraping the seabed and causing irreparable damage is also causing new problems. Packed in all that fresh water is a whole bunch of ocean nutrients that aren’t native to the sensitive ecosystem surrounding South Georgia.

The small island is surprisingly dense with endangered and endangered species. It is home to seals, penguins and birds and serves as a feeding ground for migrating whales. The sudden influx of lots and lots of water containing unknown nutrients is going to have an impact on these creatures and their surroundings – although researchers aren’t sure whether it will be a net positive or potentially destructive. Some experts have suggested that the dust in the ice could help fertilize plankton and improve food availability in the region. The ESA noted that the water discharge “[influence] local ocean circulation,” and which scientists will need to continue monitoring to track the effects.

What ultimately happens with the A-68a matters, as it likely won’t be the last rogue iceberg to smash its way into uncharted territory. The researchers noted that the path the ancient ice shelf block ended up taking could also be the path that future iceberg shards will follow, and these will similarly affect the oceans in which they occur. meet up. With A-68a, we are essentially living a scientific experiment. Hopefully it will have positive effects.

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