The A68 iceberg formed two and a half years ago after separating from Antarctica in 2017. Its surface area is around 5,100 square kilometers.
It has been the largest floating ice block in Antarctica since it separated from the continent in July 2017. Until now, it had been circling in a northerly direction, its size almost intact, but recent data and images from the Sentinel-1 satellite of the European Union, have shown that a considerable part of this iceberg has detached from the great block.
The chunk is about 175 square kilometers and 19 kilometers long and, according to Swansea University researcher Adrian Luckman, this could spell the beginning of the end of the large icy block called A-68 (name assigned by the National Ice Center of the US dividing Antarctica into quadrants).
“It continually amazes me that something so thin and fragile has lasted so long in the open seaLuckman said. "I suspect that the final break is beginning, but the later fragments will probably be with us for years. ".
Professor Luckman has been monitoring the progress of the iceberg and exposes as responsible for the breakage the wear of small chips everywhere. The expert has spoken about it on his Twitter account:
Is this the beginning of the end for Iceberg A68? @ESA_EO # Sentinel1 captures a 175 sq km piece breaking off on 23rd April. At more than 19 km long, this new iceberg will probably get its own name pic.twitter.com/9CkqVhiL7b- Adrian Luckman (@adrian_luckman) April 23, 2020
Iceberg A-68 details
The monstrous A-68 iceberg is approximately 5,100 square kilometers, as large as Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean, and weighs a trillion tons.
The A-68 broke away from the Larsen C ice shelf in July 2017 and had remained floating in the cold, unflappable waters. Until now. On April 19, it lost a considerable chunk of about 175 square kilometers in its transit north from the Antarctic Peninsula. It has entered harder and warmer waters, so it is going through currents that should carry it towards the South Atlantic where it could disappear.
In 2017, the A-68 was about 6,000 square kilometers in area, and it didn't move very far for a few months. It had an average thickness of about 190 meters. But slowly, the colossal iceberg began to move north. Today, it has passed the South Orkney Islands that make up the furthest end of the Antarctic Peninsula and may continue to the South Sandwich Islands.
How long will the iceberg A-68 last in its entirety?
Scientists are concerned that A-68 is now currently trapped by quite a bit of motion stress, so further splits or fragmentations of the mother iceberg cannot be ruled out in the coming months. Be that as it may, individual pieces of ice could still take many years to disappear.
Specifically the iceberg would more correctly be the A-68A, because the later breaks also have their own related name. A-68B broke off very early in life from the main iceberg. And this new portion is sure to get the A-68C designation.
By Sarah Romero