February 24, 2024

The largest iceberg in the world is disintegrating

Iceberg A23a broke off the Antarctic coast in 1986, but then froze in the Weddell Sea. Now there's a new amazing observation.

Dorothea Meadows/TV Online

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For Antarctic researchers, the A23a iceberg is an old friend. The massive ice block had already broken off the Antarctic coast 37 years ago, but froze at the bottom of the Weddell Sea on its way north. After the glacial ice (which is twice the size of canton St. Gallen) broke off again last year, it drifted at high speed into the South Atlantic.

November 25, 2023, Antarctica: A satellite image of the world's largest iceberg, named A23a, is seen in Antarctica on November 15, 2023. The world's largest iceberg, more than twice the size of Britain's…

Satellite image from November 2023: After a year of remaining in a fixed position, iceberg A23a has drifted north across the Weddell Sea.Image: www.imago-images.de

Reaches 400 metres: 'Simply unbelievably large'

Now an expedition ship crew has reached the ice giant and reported huge caves and arches that have been cut into the frozen walls by erosion.

Also on board is conservationist and photographer Richard Sidey. He posted a stunning photo of A23a on Instagram on Monday and wrote: “This morning I photographed A23a, the largest iceberg on Earth! This giant mountain weighs nearly one trillion tons, is up to 400 meters thick, and covers an area of ​​3,900 square kilometers. Simply unbelievably large.

“It was exciting and beautiful to film,” Saidi told the BBC. “The mountain is incredibly large. I don't think we can imagine how big it is. It's definitely too big to photograph. It extends in both directions as far as you can see.”

“We saw waves three to four meters high hitting the iceberg,” said Ian Strachan, the expedition's leader, describing the encounter with the giant. “They raised ice waterfalls. A constant state of erosion.”

The farther the iceberg moves away from Antarctica, the more it breaks up due to rising air and water temperatures. A23a is currently drifting with the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and being pushed by westerly winds 600 kilometers south of the South Orkney Islands, the BBC reported, citing information from the expedition team.

There has been another iceberg on the move for four years

The big question is: How long can A23a survive? Even experts don't want to commit themselves here. In fact, the process can take years, as another example shows: another iceberg observed by scientists is D28.

According to information, it is located in the South Atlantic Ocean, about 200 kilometers north of the South Georgia Archipelago (about 1,500 kilometers east of Cape Horn). Although D28 has already lost a third of its mass, it remains compressed since it broke off the ice shelf in 2019.

“Damn, it's so hot” – Marilyn from Argau really heats things up

Video: Watson

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