This gigantic mass of ice has an area of approximately 4,000 square kilometers and weighs almost a trillion tons. Photo: NASA Worldview

Iceberg A-23A, the world's largest and which broke off Antarctic glaciers in 1986, is heading toward the Atlantic, according to information from the British Antarctic Survey obtained from satellite data.

The ice mass covers an area of almost 4,000 square kilometres and was once part of the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf. After breaking away from the continental glacier in 1986, the massive iceberg was stranded, largely because its base became stuck at the bottom of the Weddell Sea (in the southern Atlantic Ocean).

According to estimates by British glaciologist Oliver Marsh, the A-23A has "the potential to survive for a long time" in the ocean, even if it is surrounded by warmer water. In addition, it can "drift into South Africa and disrupt navigation" at a certain point. It's rare to see an iceberg of this size in motion, the scientist admitted. The enormous mass of ice weighs nearly a trillion tons.

#ImageOfTheDay #A23a is the largest #iceberg 🧊 in the world

After being stuck on the #Antarctic ocean floor for over 30 years, it has started to drift again in recent months#Sentinel1 images from
↖️19 and 31 🇪🇺🛰️ October
↙️12 and ↗️ ↘️24 November

— Copernicus EU (@CopernicusEU) November 25, 2023

According to Marsh, it's possible that the iceberg has become "slightly thinner," somewhat more buoyant, and would be being pushed by ocean currents. However, it is possible that A-23A will be stranded again in South Georgia, a prospect that would pose a problem for wildlife in the region, as millions of seals, penguins and seabirds breed on the island and feed in the surrounding waters. The mass of ice could cut off their access to needed resources.

Another giant iceberg, A68, sparked similar fears of a collision with South Georgia in 2020. However, disaster for marine life could have been averted when the iceberg broke into several pieces. Scientists don't rule out the same fate for the A-23A.

CC @KHayhoe @WeDontHaveTime @helgavanleur @WeatherProf

— SatWorld (@or_bit_eye) November 25, 2023

(With information from Rt en Español)

See also:

On the move, colossal Antarctic iceberg that's taller than the Empire State Building