Iceberg, as large as Greater London, poses threat to shipping, fishing, wildlife
Scientists are concerned about a massive iceberg, the size of Greater London, which could potentially collide with shipping, fishing and wildlife. Two icebergs are being monitored by researchers- the A81, the size of Greater London, and the A76a, which is even larger.
The A76a iceberg, which originated from the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf in May 2021, is currently being carried by currents and winds towards the Falklands and South Georgia. Professor Geraint Tarling explained that the A76a was in their way while sailing home and they had to take a detour around it, collecting samples of water from around the iceberg using special pipes.
“We got in quite close in some places and had a really good view of it. We collected water from around the berg using special non-contaminated pipes under the ship, so we’ve got lots of samples to study,” Tarling told BBC News.
Dr Mark Belchier, the director of fisheries and environment with the government for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, expressed his concerns about the potential impact on fisheries operations during the winter months.
He added that the iceberg could also have a localised impact on wildlife, but that may be less of an issue if it breaks up over winter when most animals can forage over greater distances and don’t have to keep returning to land to feed young or have moved away from the island completely.
Belchier is worried about the impact of the iceberg if it becomes grounded. The break-up of the iceberg could result in smaller icebergs impacting vessel movements in the area. Although the tourist season is ending, the fisheries operate during the winter months, so any impact could affect their operations, according to Belchier.
The iceberg could also affect the local wildlife, but it is less likely to be an issue if it breaks up over winter when the animals can forage over greater distances or have moved away from the island completely, Belchier added.