World's biggest iceberg on collision course with penguin sanctuary

Young journalists club

News ID: 49104
Publish Date: 17:19 - 05 November 2020
Thursday, 05 November 2020 _The world's biggest iceberg is set to smash into a remote South Atlantic island that is home to thousands of penguins and seals, and could impede their ability to gather food, scientists told Agence France-Presse (AFP) Wednesday.

World's biggest iceberg on collision course with penguin sanctuaryIcebergs naturally break off from Antarctica into the ocean, but climate change has accelerated the process — in this case, with potentially devastating consequences for the abundant wildlife in the British Overseas Territory of South Georgia.

Shaped like a closed hand with a pointing finger, the iceberg known as A68a split off in 2017 from Larsen Ice Shelf on the West Antarctic Peninsula, which has warmed faster than any other part of Earth's southernmost continent.

At its current rate of travel, it will take the giant ice cube — which is several times the area of greater London — 20 to 30 days to run aground into the island's shallow waters.

A68a is 160 kilometers (93 miles) long and 48 kilometers across at its widest point, but the iceberg is less than 200 meters (656 feet) deep, which means it could park dangerously close to the island.

"We put the odds of collision at 50/50," Andrew Fleming from the British Antarctic Survey told AFP.

Many thousands of King penguins — a species with a bright splash of yellow on their heads — live on the island, alongside Macaroni, Chinstrap, and Gentoo penguins.

Seals also populate South Georgia, as do wandering albatrosses, the largest bird species that can fly.

If the iceberg runs aground next to South Georgia, foraging routes could be blocked, hampering the ability of penguin parents to feed their young, and thus threatening the survival of seal pups and penguin chicks.

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