Huge iceberg 3 times the size of London is on collision course with remote British territory

AN URGENT mission to a giant iceberg that could soon collide with the island of South Georgia is being prepared by scientists.

The small island in the southern Atlantic ocean could suffer devastating consequences if the A-68A iceberg tears up the surrounding sea floor and destroys the ecosystem by releasing freezing water.

The iceberg is actually the biggest in the world.

It broke away from the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica in 2017 and has been drifting towards the remote British territory of South Georgia ever since.

There is no permanent human population on the island.

The trillion ton iceberg is nearly three times the size of Greater London and has been tracked by the RAF as it heads towards a remote island in the South Atlantic.

Scientists fear there is a possibility the iceberg could become stuck in the shallow waters around South Georgia which could pose a threat to molluscs, crustaceans and other life.

Penguins, seals and whales feed on the sea life in the surrounding area.

A mission featuring researchers from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) will head to the iceberg on research ship RRS James Cook in January.

The researchers plan to study the creatures around the iceberg and use robotic submarines to measure things like temperature and plankton levels.

They could use this information to try and estimate the environmental impacts of the iceberg collision.

The iceberg may not ground itself for a while yet and it's currently very hard for scientists to predict what will happen.

If it does ground itself it may take a decade to melt.

Although currently heading straight at South Georgia, A68a is being carried in fast-moving waters that could even divert the block around the south of the island.

If the floating giant were to run aground it may cause problems for the island's seal and penguin population as access to food could be severely cut off.

“A close-in iceberg has massive implications for where land-based predators might be able to forage,” said Professor Geraint Tarling from the British Antarctic Survey.

“When you're talking about penguins and seals during the period that's really crucial to them, during pup and chick-rearing, the actual distance they have to travel to find food really matters.

"If they have to do a big detour, it means they're not going to get back to their young in time to prevent them starving to death in the interim.

“Ecosystems can and will bounce back of course, but there's a danger here that if this iceberg gets stuck, it could be there for 10 years,” Prof Tarling told the BBC.

What is an iceberg?

Here’s what you need to know…

  • An iceberg is a large chunk of ice made from freshwater
  • It has typically broken off from a glacier or an ice shelft
  • The name is a loan translation from the Dutch 'ijsberg', which means ice mountain
  • Icebergs are found floating freely in open salt-water
  • Around 90% of an iceberg is below the surface, and therefore not visible
  • That's why they're considered to be a major shipping hazard
  • The most famous iceberg-at-sea incident was the 1912 loss of the "unsinkable" RMS Titanic, which capsized after hitting an iceberg
  • The largest iceberg ever recorded is Iceberg B-15, which was calved from Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf in March 2000
  • It measured 183 miles long, 23 miles wide, and had a surface area of 4,200 square miles – bigger than Jamaica

In other news, Mount Everest is now even taller as China and Nepal have agreed on a height for the first time.

And, designs for cities that can house a million people on Mars have been unveiled by a team of scientists and architects.

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