Graphic shows how iceberg A-68A could be on course to hit South Georgia Island.
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ENVIRONMENT

World's biggest iceberg on collision course with South Georgia

By Ninian Carter

November 4, 2020 - The world’s biggest iceberg is on a collision course with the British Overseas Territory of South Georgia, threatening the breeding grounds for elephant seals, fur seals and king penguins.

Iceberg A-68A, which calved off the Larsen C Ice Shelf in 2017, has drifted 2,000 kilometres northeast and is now on a collision course with South Georgia Island, home to a delicate ecosystem that sustains seals, penguins and other rare birds.

The iceberg is the biggest in the world – roughly the same size as South Georgia Island (around 3,500 square kilometres) – and if it runs aground there, will disrupt breeding grounds by blocking normal foraging routes, preventing penguins and seals from feeding their young properly.

When the colossal A-38 iceberg grounded on the island in 2004, innumerable dead penguin chicks and seal pups were found on local beaches.

Additionally, all creatures living on the sea floor would be crushed where A-68A touches down - a disturbance that would take a very long time to reverse, especially as the iceberg could take 10 years to melt.

Satellite images suggest A-68A is on a direct path for South Georgia, but it could follow currents and loop around the south of the island, before spinning away to the northwest and eventually breaking up in warmer, more turbulent waters.

PUBLISHED: 04/11/2020; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: Creative Commons
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