"Iceberg A23a: Unmoored After Three Decades, One of the World's Largest Icebergs Drifts Beyond Antarctic Waters
LONDON — The British Antarctic Survey reports that one of the world's largest icebergs, named A23a, is finally drifting beyond Antarctic waters after being grounded for over three decades. Originally breaking away from the Antarctic's Filchner Ice Shelf in 1986, the iceberg had been tethered to the ocean floor in the Weddell Sea for many years. With a colossal size roughly three times that of New York City and more than twice the size of Greater London, measuring around 4,000 square kilometers (1,500 square miles), A23a has been a fixture in the icy landscape.
Andrew Fleming, a remote sensing expert from the British Antarctic Survey, revealed to the BBC on Friday that the iceberg, which started drifting about a year ago, is now accelerating past the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. This newfound mobility is attributed to the combined forces of wind and ocean currents. Fleming remarked, "I asked a couple of colleagues about this, wondering if there was any possible change in shelf water temperatures that might have provoked it, but the consensus is the time had just come. It was grounded since 1986, but eventually, it was going to decrease (in size) sufficiently to lose grip and start moving."
The first signs of movement from A23a were observed by Fleming in 2020. The British Antarctic Survey notes that the iceberg has successfully ungrounded and is currently navigating ocean currents towards sub-Antarctic South Georgia."
In conclusion, the monumental iceberg A23a, which had been grounded for over three decades after breaking away from the Antarctic's Filchner Ice Shelf in 1986, is now finally drifting beyond Antarctic waters. With dimensions approximately three times the size of New York City and over twice the size of Greater London, measuring around 4,000 square kilometers (1,500 square miles), the iceberg has been a fixture in the icy expanse. Andrew Fleming, a remote sensing expert from the British Antarctic Survey, notes that A23a began drifting about a year ago, gradually gaining speed as it moves past the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, propelled by wind and ocean currents.
The consensus among experts is that the iceberg's prolonged grounding since 1986 eventually reached a tipping point, leading to its newfound mobility. This significant event highlights the dynamic and ever-changing nature of Antarctic landscapes. As A23a navigates ocean currents toward sub-Antarctic South Georgia, the conclusion of its decades-long grounding marks a noteworthy chapter in the ongoing story of Antarctic ice formations.