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One of the largest icebergs in the world, A23a, has been grounded for more than three decades and is now drifting beyond Antarctic waters, according to the British Antarctic Survey. In 1986, the iceberg broke away from the Filchner Ice Shelf in Antarctica. It is roughly three times the size of New York City and more than twice the size of Greater London. However, it became stuck on the ocean floor in the Weddell Sea.
Record-Breaking Iceberg Drifts Free
After 37 years of being grounded, A23a has finally started to move. The iceberg is drifting past the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula and heading towards the Southern Ocean. The British Antarctic Survey confirmed that the iceberg has been in motion for the past year and is now gaining velocity due to the influence of the wind and ocean currents. The iceberg's movement is anticipated to continue for a while as it is carried into the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, commonly referred to as "iceberg alley." This current may carry A23a towards the South Atlantic, which could potentially disturb the foraging pathways of millions of seals, penguins, and other seabirds that breed on South Georgia Island.
The reason behind the sudden movement of the iceberg, which had been grounded for 37 years, remains unclear. According to Dr. Andrew Fleming, a remote sensing expert from the British Antarctic Survey, the time had come for the iceberg to decrease in size enough to lose grip and start moving. The journey of A23a is a rare and noteworthy occurrence in the world's oceans, marking the first time in 37 years that an iceberg of its size has been seen moving.
Iceberg's Sudden Movement After 37 Years of Being Grounded
One of the world's largest icebergs, A23a, is currently in motion after being trapped for over 30 years in the Weddell Sea in Antarctica. The iceberg has an area of approximately 1,500 square miles, which is more than twice the size of Greater London and three times the size of New York City.
A23a initially broke away from the Antarctic coast in 1986 and became wedged on the ocean floor, eventually transforming into an ice island. However, recent satellite imagery indicates that the iceberg is rapidly drifting past the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, aided by dominant winds and currents. It is anticipated that the iceberg will enter the Atlantic Ocean, posing a potential hazard to wildlife in the vicinity of South Georgia Island.
Scientists will closely monitor the path of massive icebergs as they pose a risk of getting stranded in shallow waters near South Georgia Island, which is a habitat to seal pups and penguin chicks. If this eventuality materializes, it could hinder the animals' access to food. On the other hand, icebergs play a crucial role in the environment as they deposit mineral dust, a fundamental nutrient in oceanic food chains, as they melt. The scientific community is closely monitoring the journey of A23a due to its potential disruption of the feeding patterns of the wildlife on the island, including millions of seals, penguins, and seabirds.