The A-81 iceberg is around 1,550 square kilometers in size, so researchers consider it to have a similar extension to London, England (REUTERS)

scientists from British Antarctic Survey (BAS, British entity attached to the Natural Environment Research Council) announced on Monday the first visual record of the A-81 iceberg, a huge mass of ice the size of London that broke away from Antarctica on January 22.

“The images show the dynamic nature of the iceberg, which is surrounded by other smaller pieces of ice and has also broken away,” the researchers wrote in a statement.

Currently, the A-81 iceberg -about 1550 square kilometers- is heading south due to the strong sea current, spinning on its own, while floating about 150 kilometers from its origin, the Brunt Ice Shelf, an area affected by climate change.

“We knew there would be a rupture. The BAS has been monitoring the Brunt ice shelf and the sinkholes that have been forming there for a decade,” explained the glaciologist. Olivier Marsh in the report.

Over the past two months, A-81 has traveled about 150 kilometers westward through the waters of the Antarctic Ocean, driven by the sea currents of the Weddell Sea

This is the first aerial images (of planes) of this large iceberg, captured in recent weeks at different points along its contour. Until now, images of this large piece of floating ice had been taken from satellites.

The teams that flew over the A-81 are part of the BAS Halley Research Station, which is relatively close to this detached ice. “The images show the dynamic nature of the iceberg, surrounded by smaller icebergs that have also broken away,” the scientific institution warned on its internet blog.

According to the BAS, Brunt is “one of the best-kept ice shelves on the planet”, in part because it is home to the BAS Halley Research Station, moved in 2016 precisely to avoid damage from cracking. ice.

“Monitoring by BAS glaciologists shows that the area of ​​the research station is currently not significantly affected by the calving of A-81. This fragmentation “is a natural process along the Antarctic coast, and A-81 is the second large iceberg in the region in two years.”

The images show the dynamic nature of the A-81 iceberg surrounded by smaller icebergs that have also broken away.
The images show the dynamic nature of the A-81 iceberg surrounded by smaller icebergs that have also broken away.

Oliver Marsh, The BAS glaciologist assured that the experts of this scientific institution have been monitoring the Brunt ice floe and the abysses that have formed there for more than a decade. “Since glaciologists first observed Chasm-1 enlargement in 2012, BAS science and operations teams anticipated the calving event,” he said.

According to the expert, “they used high precision GPS instrumentsas well as satellite data, to monitor the widening of the sinkhole, and in 2016 BAS took the precaution of moving Halley’s research station inland to protect it. BAS scientists and the community at large will be keeping an eye on A-81 as it continues to drift through the Weddell Sea and further north into the South Atlantic basin.

But A-81 is only the second largest iceberg in the region during the last years. He A-76, A huge 3,200 square kilometer mass detached from the Filchner-Ronne ice shelf in May 2021, it is the largest floating iceberg on the planet, although it is currently split into three pieces.

These fragments move towards shallower waters, in the direction of South Georgia and Aurora Islands. Scientists believe this huge mass of ice could significantly affect local wildlife feeding pathways and alter ocean currents.

Continue reading:

An Underwater Robot Studied Eerie Melting Under Antarctica: Here’s What It Found
Antarctica’s ice cap is melting and it’s not good news for humanity
The intensity of the El Niño phenomenon will cause the irreversible melting of Antarctica

Categorized in: