Satellites images show that over a three month period in 2020/2021, the mega iceberg A-68 melted considerably, releasing 152 billion tonnes of freshwater into the seas around South Georgia. The amount of water released is equivalent to 20 times the amount of water in Loch Ness or 61 million Olympic sized swimming pools.
In July 2017, the A68A iceberg snapped off the Larsen-C Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula and began its 3.5 year, 4000km journey across the Southern Ocean.
The iceberg was the largest of the kind when it formed, spanning 5719 square kilometres – a quarter the size of Wales. It was also sixth-largest iceberg on record.
During Christmas 2020, the iceberg caused panic around the world as it began moving dangerously close to the island of South Georgia, raising concerns it could harm the island’s fragile ecosystem.
Findings revealed that the berg had melted enough as it drifted to avoid damaging the seafloor around South Georgia.
However, a side effect of the melting was that the iceberg released a colossal amount of freshwater in close proximity to the island.
The researchers warn that this created a disturbance that could have a profound impact on the island’s marine habitat.
Anne Braakmann-Folgmann, a researcher at CPOM and PhD candidate at the University of Leeds’ School of Earth and Environment, is the lead author of the study.
She said: “This is a huge amount of meltwater, and the next thing we want to learn is whether it had a positive or negative impact on the ecosystem around South Georgia.
“Because A68A took a common route across the Drake Passage, we hope to learn more about icebergs taking a similar trajectory, and how they influence the polar oceans.”
Due to global warming, icebergs are rapidly melting, which is causing the global sea levels to gradually rise, putting many populated cities and tourist attractions at risk of going underwater by 2030.
Amsterdam is one of those cities. About one-third of the Netherlands lies below sea level, with the lowest point being 22 feet (6.7 meters) below sea level.
While the country has built considerable flood defences to prevent such a catastrophe, rising sea levels will only put this popular tourist destination at risk.
Aside from rising sea levels, Venice also faces the threat of the city itself sinking by two millimetres every year.
In Asia, Kolkata lies on a fertile flat plain in India, making it highly susceptible to being flooded by rising sea levels, particularly during the annual monsoon season.
Like Venice, Bangkok lies just a few metres above sea level and is sinking by two to three millimetres every year.
According to a 2020 study, Bangkok could be the worst-hit city in the world due to global warming.