An iceberg that had been the world’s largest is now breaking into pieces close to the island of South Georgia in the South Atlantic.
Scientists had worried about the impact on the remote island’s wildlife if the berg had grounded on its continental shelf. Salinity levels and water levels would have caused sweeping changes to the ecosystem, while plants and animals on the sea bed might have been crushed if the berg—once the size of Jamaica—had been borne ashore by the strong South Atlantic currents.
Then there was the matter of the penguins.
Ecologists feared that the island’s huge colonies of king and gentoo penguins would have to make large detours to reach their usual hunting grounds, with potentially dire consequences for chicks waiting back onshore.
Instead, more than three years after calving off Antarctica’s Larsen C Ice Shelf some 930 miles to the south, warmer waters and the torque of the currents have shattered the behemoth into a dozen pieces, now known as A68b, A68c, and so on under the U.S. National Ice Center’s naming system. They now appear set to drift north, where they might prove a bigger problem for humans.