A British polar research vessel has had an unexpected encounter with the world's largest iceberg. The British Antarctic Survey announced on Monday that scientists had collected seawater samples around a huge mountain range that spills out of the Southern Ocean. The sighting occurred shortly after researchers confirmed that the iceberg was “on the move” for the first time in 37 years.
The world's largest iceberg, A23a, is about three times the size of New York City and covers an area of about 4,000 square kilometers (1,500 square miles). A drone was set up to photograph this unique iceberg.
On Friday, the RRS Sir David Attenborough, heading to Antarctica for its first scientific mission, passed a giant iceberg, identified as A23a, near the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, CBS reported.
The investigation also removed a dramatic video taken by the ship's crew. According to a press release from the British Antarctic Survey, the footage was shot by Theresa Gosman, Matthew Gascoigne and Christopher Gray, with additions by Roseanne Smith.
Watch the video here:
It has an area of 3,900km2, so it's slightly larger than Cornwall.
An epic team including Teresa Gosman, Matthew Gascoigne and Christopher Gray brought us this footage. pic.twitter.com/d1fOprVWZL
— British Antarctic Survey🐧 (@BAS_News) December 4, 2023
Dr Andrew Myers, Principal Scientist on the RRS Sir David Attenborough and Lead Polar Marine Science at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), said: “The iceberg's route out of the Weddell Sea is directly across our planned path. “We were incredibly fortunate to have the right team to take advantage of this opportunity. We were lucky that there wasn't, and it was amazing to be able to see this huge mountain directly. It stretches for a very long time as far as the eye can see. ”
The iceberg, which once housed a Soviet research base, has remained largely motionless since it broke away from West Antarctica's Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf in 1986. According to Reuters, this happened when the base sank to the bottom of the Weddell Sea.
A23a could become stuck in South Georgia again, raising concerns for Antarctic wildlife. The island is a breeding ground for millions of seals, penguins and seabirds, who forage in the surrounding ocean. Her huge A23a could block access to these critical areas.