The world’s largest iceberg is breaking away from Antarctica, a satellite image shows
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After moving slowly Antarctica After more than a year and barely melting, the world’s largest iceberg may soon be on an accelerated path to its ultimate demise, a new satellite photo shows.
The giant ice sheet, known as A-76A, is about 84 miles (135 kilometers) long and 16 miles (26 km) wide. It is the largest fragment of the world’s former largest iceberg, Rhode Island-sized A-76, which broke off from the western side of the Ronne Ice Shelf in Antarctica May 2021 and later broken into three parts: A-76A, A-76B and A-76C.
On Oct. 31, NASA’s Terra satellite captured a photo of the A-76A floating through the Drake Passage, a deep waterway that connects the Pacific and Atlantic oceans between South Africa’s Cape Horn and the South Shetland Islands to the north. Antarctic Peninsula. The image shows the trough currently sitting between the Elephant Islands and the South Orkney Islands (both shrouded in cloud) at the southern end of the passage, but its trajectory suggests it will head further north into the waterway. the coming weeks. The picture was released on the Internet on November 4 NASA’s Earth Observatory (opens in new tab).
Normally, when icebergs spill into the Drake Passage, they are quickly pulled east by strong ocean currents before heading north into warmer waters, where they soon melt completely, according to the Earth Observatory.
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To date, the A-76A has traveled about 1,250 miles (2,000 km) since breaking away from the Antarctic Peninsula in 2021. Berg has managed to avoid significant ice loss so far on his journey. Data collected by the US National Ice Center in June showed that A-76A is about the same size as it was when it broke away from its parent rock more than a year ago, according to the Earth Observatory.
It’s unlikely to remain intact for long, however, as the Drake Passage is notorious for sending icebergs on a one-way trip to their watery graves. The main reason for this is the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC); it is the only stream that flows completely across the globe, and it contains more water than any other stream on Earth. The ACC, which runs west to east through the Drake Passage, carries between 3,400 and 5,300 million cubic feet (95 and 150 million cubic meters) of water every second, according to the. Britain (opens in new tab). As a result, stray bergs that enter the Drake Passage are quickly pulled from Antarctica and thrown into warmer waters, where they soon melt.
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The ACC is not the only ocean current that helps determine the fate of icebergs. Other small currents also play a key role in the distribution and eventual destruction of drifting ice masses, but researchers are still trying to understand how.
October 19, study in the journal The progress of science It turned out that another record-breaking berg, A68a, which held the title of the world’s largest iceberg for nearly three years, torn in half by powerful ocean currents after the narrow avoid a potentially catastrophic collision with South Georgia Island in late 2020. At that time, researchers were surprised when a mighty berg suddenly split in the middle of the ocean. But the study found that a sudden change in the direction and strength of nearby currents was to blame for the breakup of the huge iceberg.
It is currently unclear how long the A-76A will remain in the Drake Passage, where it will appear, and how long it will survive the ice mass after flying north.
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