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World’s once-largest iceberg has melted away

By SAAB LARIOSA Published Apr 20, 2021 2:41 pm

A68, the world’s largest iceberg, has officially melted away.

According to satellite data, A68 broke off into tiny pieces too small to track. It began moving northeast after separating from the Antarctic peninsula in 2017 and was apparently affected by strong currents and warm water upon reaching the British Overseas Territory of South Georgia.

Unlike regular icebergs, the 5,800sq km (2,239sq miles) and 230m thick ice block encompasses a large amount of mass due to its fairly flat shape.

"If you think about the thickness ratio—t's like four pieces of A4 paper stacked up on top of one another. So this thing is incredibly flexible and fragile as it moved around the ocean,” Swansea University in Wales' Adrian Luckman shared with BBC News.

“It lasted for years like that. But it eventually broke into four-to-five pieces and then those broke up as well,” he added.

Photo by Phil Dye Raf

The iceberg gained traction in 2017, as it served as the first of its kind that could be regularly tracked online using satellite data. 

Though it’s an unfortunate loss, glaciologists say that A68’s loss went through a natural process of formation and destruction. Though it wasn’t directly brought upon by climate change, it does showcase how unstable factors can contribute to weakening icebergs.

Banner photo from British Royal Air Force