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The iceberg heading towards sub-Antarctic islands can threaten wildlife



An ice sheet about the size of Delaware is moving toward the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia, which worries experts about its ability to keep wildlife out of food and threaten the island’s ecosystem.

The iceberg, known as A68a, about 250 miles from the coast of the British island territory of the state of South Georgia is Wednesday, the British Antarctic Survey said.

Andrew Fleming, a remote sensing manager for the survey, said the ice sheet could run aground near the island and a few weeks off its coast.

The ice sheets split off of the Antarctic peninsula in 2017 and are about 100 miles long and 30 miles wide. The trajectory of the iceberg is variable and away from the island, because it is in the strongest ocean current, where the water is not obstructed by the continent. This means that the iceberg can easily pass through the island, depending on natural developments.

It is not possible to predict what would happen if the iceberg ran aground near South Georgia, said M Jackson, an explorer and an explorer with the National Geographic Association. Such episodes are not unprecedented, but they often get more attention when they pose a threat to humans and wildlife, she said.

Likely the A68a is stranded, it could disrupt part of South Georgia̵

7;s ecosystem, affecting certain areas and paths where animals, such as seals and penguins, hunt and collect food.

“Basically, seals and penguins are born on land, then travel back and forth across the ocean to source and return with food to feed their babies,” Jackson said. “The iceberg can disrupt this, seals and penguins may be unable to source and feed the rats and chicks on land, potentially causing widespread famine.”

Douglas R. MacAyeal, a professor of geophysical science at the University of Chicago who has studied the behavior of large icebergs, compared A68a to another large iceberg, the B-15A.

In the 2000s, the B-15A attacked parts of Ross Island in the Ross Sea as well as other icebergs surrounding it, disturbing penguins on the island. Some colonies went through many years without chicks hatching. The disturbance has resulted in some species of penguins mating with those from different colonies.

“This leads to the genetic benefit of exchange, the genetic material from different cohort groups, often isolated,” MacAyeal said in an email. “In my opinion: If A68a encounters the island itself or the shoals surrounding it, it will be spectacular for a few days but it will not lead to an ecological disaster.”

Some experts predict the A68a will eventually break into large pieces due to the strong currents.

“The southern ocean around South Georgia is a completely wild place with strong currents and rising sea levels that will ‘bend’ the iceberg on top of its landing, causing it to strain and break,” MacAyeal said. like a ship.

If the iceberg near the island’s coast breaks, it could potentially displace large amounts of seawater that “could inundate coastal communities,” Jackson said.

This kind of danger is something experts have faced because climate change has resulted in ice melting and ice systems being broken down at a significant rate.

“I suspect with the increasing rate of ice melting around the world that this is the last time we see this,” Jackson said. “I wouldn’t be surprised in the coming years if we continue to see larger icebergs posing greater dangers to communities as well as wildlife.”


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