A-68, the name approved by NOAA for the new iceberg, which ESA calls Behemoth, had a small detachment at its northern end, so the resulting sections could be called A68a and A68b, glaciologist Adrián Luckman posted this Friday in his twitter account.
With 6,000 km2, equivalent to 4 times more than Mexico City, the new iceberg, with more than one million tons according to the MIDAS project, has only 10% of its volume exposed on the sea, reported the CryoSat mission of the THAT.
The iceberg A-68 was fragmented into sections that may be called A68a and A68b. (Image: Suomi NPP / VIIRS)
Noel Gourmelen from the University of Edinburgh said: "Using information from CryoSat we mapped the elevation of the ice over the ocean and have calculated that the eventual iceberg will be about 190m thick and will contain approximately 1,155 cubic kilometers of ice," adding that "The depth below sea level could be up to 210 m".
Dangers to marine traffic
Although the formation of icebergs is common in Antarctica, the large size of A-68 requires that its path across the ocean be monitored for possible danger to maritime traffic.
Sentinel1 and CryoSat monitor the movement and changes of the new iceberg as it moves away from the ice shelf, whose evolution for specialists is still uncertain.
The large block of ice could be partially or totally broken into pieces. Complete or in fragments it would be swept north by ocean currents, and could reach the Falkland Islands. If this were the case, it would represent a danger to ships in the Drake Pass, according to the same source.
Anna Hogg, an expert in satellite observations at the University of Leeds (United Kingdom), for her part told the BBC that the movement of icebergs depends on the winds of the atmosphere, the ocean currents that push the block of ice that is under the surface of the water ”, but also by the shape of the seabed.
Elevations like some small mountains on the seafloor "can be high enough to make the iceberg stay in the same place for a while," Hogg said.
The long journey of the iceberg A-68
If there is not something to stop it, "it will begin to travel around the Antarctic continent, driven by the coastal current that rotates in an anti-clockwise direction and is present throughout the year," added the expert.
Opposite clockwise routes that icebergs follow in Antarctica. (Image: ESA)
When it reaches the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, "it will continue to travel north towards the Drake Passage, where it will dissipate," in a thawing process that can take months or years, Hogg explained.
Large glaciers that drift according to weather and sea conditions can end up on the ice shelf that surrounds the island of South Georgia, 1,390 km southeast of the Falkland Islands.
When they get there, they form gigantic volumes of fresh water with dramatic impacts that can alter the feeding cycles of local fauna, such as penguins, seals and birds.
The fresh water from the icebergs “changes the currents on the shelf because it changes the density of the seawater. And it also lowers the temperature of the water ”, which can obstruct the flow of food for the island's fauna, oceanographer Mark Brandon, from the Open University in the United Kingdom told the BBC.
In any case, according to the experts, the iceberg will not represent any danger for the inhabited areas, since when moving north it will fragment and each piece will take different directions.
But if it could endanger the navigation of the tourist cruises that during the Antarctic summer cross through the Drake Pass, especially if it drifts in smaller fragments hidden under the oceanic surface, because when the ice blocks are large it is easy to see them from a distance.
And then what
Scientists at the Swansea University College of Sciences estimated earlier this year that "the loss of a piece a quarter the size of Wales will leave the entire plate vulnerable to future rupture."
This is because "Larsen C is approximately 350 m thick and floats in the seas at the edge of West Antarctica, slowing down the flow of glaciers that feed on it."
The new iceberg reduced the Larsen C shelf by 12%, changing the landscape of Antarctica forever, Martin O'Leary and Adrian Luckman of the MIDAS Project said Tuesday.
They added that "the rest of the ice shelf will naturally regenerate", although they have shown that the new configuration is potentially less stable than before the crack ", and of the" risk that Larsen C could eventually follow the example of its neighbor, Larsen B, who disbanded in 2002 ”after a similar event in 1995.
The Epoch Times