The colossus iceberg that cut up from Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf on July 12, 2017, is now within the open waters of the South Atlantic close to the South Orkney Islands, about 1050 km (~650 miles) from its birthplace. Having misplaced two chunks of ice, this report berg is rather less big than it as soon as was – and now that it’s in rougher waters, it might break up additional.
When it calved, A-68 was about twice the dimensions of Luxembourg, bigger than Delaware, and one of many largest icebergs on report, altering the define of the Antarctic Peninsula without end. Despite its dimension, nevertheless, it’s remarkably skinny, simply a few hundred meters thick.
Over the final three years, satellite tv for pc missions similar to Copernicus Sentinel-1 have been used to trace the berg because it drifted within the Southern Ocean. For the primary two years, it remained near its mother or father ice sheet, impeded by sea ice.
However, it misplaced a piece of ice nearly instantly after being calved, leading to it being renamed A-68A, and its offspring grew to become A-68B. More just lately, in April 2020, A-68A misplaced one other chunk: A-68C.
Rather unromantically, Antarctic icebergs are named from the Antarctic quadrant by which they had been initially sighted, then a sequential quantity, then, if the iceberg breaks, a sequential letter.
Although A-68A is a comparatively skinny iceberg, it has held collectively fairly nicely, however satellites shall be key to monitoring the way it adjustments in open waters.
Captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-1 radar mission, the picture above reveals the berg on 5 July 2020, a couple of days earlier than its third birthday. Satellites carrying radar proceed to ship photos whatever the darkish and unhealthy climate, which is indispensable when monitoring the distant polar areas that are shrouded in darkness in the course of the winter months.
The map reveals the completely different positions of A-68A throughout its three-year journey. The map not solely highlights how lengthy it remained near the Larsen C ice sheet, however how, during the last yr or so, its tempo of drift has elevated significantly.
The map additionally consists of historic iceberg tracks, based mostly on knowledge from quite a few satellites together with ESA’s ERS-1 and ERS-2, and reveals that A-68A is following this well-trodden path.
The wider-view picture under from the Copernicus Sentinel-Three mission reveals A-68A’s place in February 2020.