The giant A-68 iceberg released 152 billion tons of fresh water into the ocean

2022-06-10 0 By

Last year, the giant A-68A iceberg slowly drifted 4,000km across the Southern Ocean from its home continent of Antarctica, making it the largest iceberg on Earth at the time.Its demise followed a gradual melting of tepid seawater that released a staggering 152 billion tons of fresh water, alarming scientists who predicted it could have a serious impact on the local ecosystem.The “giant iceberg” broke off the Larsen C ice shelf in July 2017 and melted over a three-month period beginning in late 2020, but disappeared completely by early 2021, according to a study published in the journal Remote Sensing of Environment.The rest of the A-68A, along with other large pieces of the A-68, broke off near South Georgia Island on January 11, 2021.With an initial area of 5,719 square kilometers, ICEBERG A-68A is the sixth-largest iceberg ever recorded by satellite.It released a total volume of fresh water equivalent to 61 million Olympic-sized swimming pools, eventually engulfing the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia, which has a fragile ecosystem due to its remote location.Located in one of the world’s largest Marine reserves, South Georgia is home to millions of King and Gentoo penguins that many scientists fear will be in the path of giant icebergs.These flightless birds are not affected, but the study says many plant and animal species could be affected by diluting seawater and changing salinity levels.King penguin colony (Aptenodytes patagonicus) on Salisbury Plain, South Georgia.Emperor penguins are the second largest species of penguin. They are smaller, but have some physical similarities.Some of the effects melting icebergs have on their environment include introducing cold meltwater into areas of relatively high salinity, scraping off the ocean floor, and destabilizing parent ice shelves when they break off.Icebergs can also transport nutrients such as iron in their debris, which can alter many ocean properties and plankton populations.”This is a huge meltwater, and the next thing we need to learn is whether there are positive or negative effects on the ecosystem around South Georgia island,” said Anne, the study’s lead author and a PhD student at the University of Leeds’ School of Earth and Environment, in a press release.The last recorded distance between the A-68A and South Georgia was 62 kilometers on December 15, 2020.Although it did not become stranded on the ocean floor, other icebergs could do so in the future, the researchers said.Icebergs moving along the ocean floor damage the animals that live there, which can have a knock-on effect on animals up the food chain, including birds, seals and whales.A-68a’s path is “a common iceberg track,” the study says, and “more research should be done to study the effects of this change on Marine life around South Georgia.”