The first pictures of a massive breakaway iceberg in Antarctica that calved from the Brunt Ice Shelf in late January 2023 and is as huge as Greater London have been made public by British scientists.
The video published by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) shows the big block of ice floating in the Weddell Sea.
Watch the video here:
As per a release by the polar research institute, “A81 broke free when a large crack in the ice, called Chasm-1, extended across the entire ice shelf. It is now floating approximately 150km away from its origin. The Brunt Ice Shelf is one of the most closely monitored ice shelves on the planet and is home to the BAS Halley Research Station.”
“An iceberg of this size will have a big impact on the ocean ecosystems, which support the rich diversity of marine wildlife found in this Antarctic region. These impacts may be both positive and negative. On the positive side, as the iceberg melts, it will release a lot of nutrients that could benefit the growth of microscopic plants such as phytoplankton at the base of the oceanic food webs,” said Professor Geraint Tarling, head of the Ecosystems team at BAS.
“The negative side is that this same melting, at such a large scale, dumps lots of freshwater into the ocean, which decreases salinity levels and makes the waters unsuitable for many phytoplankton and the zooplankton that feed on them. These effects could then cascade up the food web to fish, birds, seals, and whales.”
Dr. Mark Belchier, from the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, said, “Our major concern at the moment is the possible risk for vessels operating in the region as the iceberg begins to break up and calve smaller chunks of ice. It looks as though A76A may end up heading west of South Georgia, not east, where A68 broke up, but there is still so much uncertainty around this. We will be watching its movement closely.”