The largest iceberg in the world is heading towards the open ocean.
The world's largest iceberg is about to enter the Southern Ocean after breaking free from Antarctica more than two years ago.
The iceberg, called A68, measures almost 2,300 square miles (6,000 square kilometers), so it is about four times the size of Greater London and almost the same size as the US state of Delaware.
The huge iceberg, which weighs a billion tons, separated from Antarctica in 2017 and has since been constantly traveling north.
A68 is currently around 63 degrees south latitude, but once it reaches the open ocean, it is likely to decompose due to the more turbulent waters.
The currents take it to the north and in the last year it has begun to accelerate on its journey north towards South Georgia, an island in the south of the Atlantic Ocean.
The western edge of the famous iceberg A-68 (TOP R), born from the Larsen C ice shelf, is seen from NASA's Operation IceBridge research aircraft, near the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula region
The A68 has made impressive progress in drifting towards the Southern Ocean, but scientists say it will have difficulty maintaining its integrity when it reaches the heaviest waters of the ocean.
The iceberg separated due to the birth in the iceberg, the breaking of ice masses from the edge of a glacier.
The rising water and air temperatures caused by global warming are causing instabilities on the coasts of Antarctica and Greenland, accelerating melting and increasing birth rates.
However, scientists expect the iceberg to decompose as it travels more toward the equator and reaches more choppy waters.
"With a ratio of thickness to length similar to five A4 sheets, I am amazed that the ocean waves have not made ice cubes with A68," said Professor Adrian Luckman, a glaciologist and professor of geology at Swansea University. BBC.
"If it survives by a single piece when it moves beyond the edge of sea ice, I will be surprised."
One of the largest icebergs ever, A-68 is on the move and new images compiled from satellite images continue their journey of more than 155 miles (250 km) to South Georgia. With 2,239 square miles, it is approximately the size of Delaware (2,490 square miles), or four times the size of Greater London 580 square miles, and its volume is twice that of Lake Erie
Since leaving the Larson C ice shelf in Antarctica two years ago, the iceberg has turned 270 degrees and has moved 155 miles to the north, transported by the ocean current known as the Weddell turn. In the image: A-68 in it begins to separate from its initial position
Objects as large as the A68 must be constantly tracked, as they could represent an obstacle or even a threat to ships.
"If it becomes a risk it really depends on the route the iceberg follows, but I suppose it will also track smaller icebergs and its location will be communicated to ships," said Sef Lhermitte, a professor of geoscience and remote sensing at the University Delft technology. in the Netherlands, he told MailOnline.
Since leaving the Antarctic Larson C ice shelf two years ago, the iceberg turned 270 degrees and moved 155 miles north from last summer, transported by the ocean current known as the Weddell turn.
With 2,239 square miles (5,800 square kilometers) it is approximately the size of Delaware (2,490 square meters / 6,450 square kilometers), or four times the size of Greater London 580 square meters (1,500 square meters), and its volume is twice that of the from Delaware. Lake Erie: the fourth largest lake in the United States.
THE FIVE LARGEST ICEBERGS
B15: 4,200 square miles (2000)
A38: 2,664 square miles (1998)
B15A: 2,471 square miles (2002)
A68: 2,239 square miles (2017)
C19: 2,123 square miles (2002)
The years in brackets indicate the date the icebergs were recorded.
The first five departed from Antarctica.
A68 is the only one left, making it the largest iceberg in the world as of 2020.
Professor Luckman had previously published an animation of the movements of the glacier between January 6, 2018 and July 10, 2019 in his blog.
"For an object that weighs about a billion tons, the Iceberg A68 seems to be quite agile," Professor Luckman wrote.
“ After a year of staying close to its mother ice shelf, in mid-2018, A68 was trapped in the Weddell Gyre, an ocean current clockwise, which turned it 270 degrees and led 250 km north.
"The iceberg is 160 kilometers (100 miles) long and only 200 m (656 feet) thick, a proportion similar to that of a credit card, so it is surprising how little damage it has suffered on its trip so far ".
The fissure that caused A68 seemed relatively stable until January 2016, when it began to lengthen, according to the ESA, which reported the rupture of A68 in July 2017.
When it split for the first time, scientists expected the iceberg to break quickly and disintegrate, but it remained almost intact.
In March 2018, a British expedition intended to sample marine life on A68, which contains approximately the same amount of water as Lake Ontario in North America, but had to return due to the thick sea ice that slowed them down.
Large growth of cracks detected by the EU Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellites of the Pine Island glacier, which is responsible for approximately 25 percent of the Antarctic ice loss with new fractures appearing, others growing more than 3.1 miles (5 km) in six days. The left shows the fracture on January 26, 2020 and the right shows the same fracture on February 1, 2020
Professor Luckman has also been watching the Pine Island glacier in western Antarctica, which is full of cracks and could break this year.
Higher growth of cracks detected by Copernicus EU Sentinel-2 satellites in the European Union, with new fractures that grow more than 3.1 miles (5 km) in six days.
When it breaks, the 115 square mile (300 square kilometer) iceberg will break into pieces shortly after, Professor Luckman said.
WHAT IS THE A-68 ICEBERG AND WHAT DID IT OUT OF THE ANTARCED?
In July 2017, a large crack in the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica caused a billion tons of iceberg, the third largest ever recorded, to separate from the icy southern continent.
The huge chunk of ice, called iceberg A-68, measures 5,800 square kilometers (2,240 square miles), which makes it about the size of Delaware, or four times the area covered by Greater London.
Since the A-68 separated, it has not been clear what will happen to the giant mass, with the fear that it will break into pieces too small to track by satellite and go to the shipping routes.
In July 2017, a large crack in the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica caused a billion tons of iceberg, the third largest ever recorded, to separate from the icy southern continent. These detailed images were captured by instruments aboard NASA's Landsat 8 satellite.
Experts have discovered that the cracks are still growing in Larsen C, and if they continue to grow, it is possible that the ice shelf will collapse.
If all Larsen C collapses, the ice it retains could add another 4 inches (10 cm) to world sea levels over the years.
Many scientists argue that a birth event was not necessarily due to climate change.
Instead, it can simply reflect the natural growth and decomposition cycle of an ice shelf.
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