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Why is the giant Antarctic iceberg A68a a cause for concern?

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    29th Dec, 2020


  • The giant iceberg A68, the biggest block of free-floating ice from Antarctica with an area of about 5,800 sq. km, has been drifting in the Atlantic Ocean since 2017.

What is the giant iceberg A68a?

  • A68a, an iceberg roughly the size of the state of Delaware, split off from Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf in July 2017.
  • Since then it has been drifting towards the remote island of South Georgia, which is a British Overseas Territory (BOT).
  • This is the biggest section of the iceberg and is called A68a and spans an area of roughly 2,600 sq. km.

What are the concerns over it?

  • The fear is that if the iceberg grounds itself near the island, it could cause disruption to the local wildlife that forages in the ocean.
  • If the iceberg gets stuck near the island, it could mean that penguins and seals will have to travel farther in search of food, and for some this might mean that they don’t get back in time to prevent their offspring from starving to death.

What are its pros?

  • The icebergs carry dust which fertilises ocean plankton.
  • It also draws up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Why did the iceberg calve?

  • As per BAS, the iceberg’s calving is a natural event and not a result of climate change.
  • But, some models predict that a warming Antarctica in the future could mean more calving events as ice shelves and glaciers retreat.

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