The world’s largest iceberg A23a in the coming months will begin to melt rapidly and may disappear, scientists from the Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute told reporters, quoted by TASS.
In mid-November, A23a drifted into open waters in the Southern Ocean. The iceberg has a total area of 4,200 square kilometers, i.e. nearly twice as much as London.
“According to specialists from the Center for Ice and Hydrometeorological Information at the Arctic Institute, next month it will enter the Scotia Sea, where it will soon cease to exist,” the press service of the Russian scientific institution said.
In September 1986, a large mass of ice broke off from the Filchner Ice Shelf. At the site of the breakaway, three giant icebergs formed, one of which housed the seasonal Russian research base Druzhnaya-1. After breaking away from the shelf, the iceberg quickly became stuck in the southern part of the Antarctic Weddell Sea, becoming an ice island. This summer, the iceberg moved for the first time due to the influence of water currents.
During the Antarctic winter, the iceberg moving along the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, thanks to the local circulation, traveled a distance of 1118 nautical miles (2070 km). During the drift, the iceberg did not suffer significant area loss.
“Iceberg A23a is expected to be picked up by ocean currents coming from the Bransfield Strait to the east, then continue its path along the South Orkney Islands and be swept into the Scotia Sea. In the future, it will rather quickly cease to exist as a whole under the influence of wind, waves and warm waters of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. However, it cannot yet be ruled out that iceberg A23a could remain in the Weddell Sea system, in which case its life would be extended by several more years,” the scientists reported.
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