Massive Ice Shelf That Broke Off Antarctica Starting to Disintegrate

Date: 2020-12-24 00:01:58

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Recent satellite imagery has suggested that one of the world’s largest icebergs had, as predicted, grounded out on the oceanic shelf and begun to break up.

Utilising a routine patrol to the region, a Royal Air Force A400M from the British Forces South Atlantic Islands (BFSAI) was able to investigate further.

As the current around South Georgia spun iceberg A-68a, a large section broke off.

Approximately the size of a small island, the iceberg is significant enough for it to be labelled A-68d.

A-68d had calved from the northern part of its parent berg and is now roughly 30 nautical miles away from South Georgia.

With the backdrop of South Georgia’s mountains, the new iceberg is an impressive, yet potentially hazardous, addition to the scenery.

The A400M sortie was able to capture the first imagery and video footage of A-68d.

The true nature of the threat of this iceberg to the wildlife haven of South Georgia is still being assessed, and will attract on-going interest from the Antarctic scientific community during its journey.

Further monitoring of A-68d will determine whether it is stationary on the shelf or continuing around the island.

“Following the news of the break-up of iceberg A68a, we focused the sortie to capture the first imagery of A68d. It was a genuine privilege to be the Captain of such an extraordinary sortie and for the crew and I to be involved in such a unique project. We hope that the spectacular photos will contribute greatly to the understanding of the dynamics at play,” said Flight Lieutenant Stuart Coffey, A400M Captain.

The parent berg, A-68a continues on the Southern Ocean current on its easterly course.

Commenting on his observations of A-68a on this particular sortie, Corporal Philip Dye, BFSAI photographer, said: ”It was evident as we rounded the south-eastern corner of South Georgia that the amount of bergy bits and debris had increased significantly in comparison to the previous sorties.”

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