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A23: The big iceberg like Burgenland is moving again

A23: The big iceberg like Burgenland is moving again

The world’s largest iceberg is slowly moving away from Antarctic waters. The European Space Agency can calculate the ice giant’s dimensions from space.

It has an area of ​​about 4,000 square kilometers, an average depth of 280 meters, a volume of 1,100 cubic kilometers, and weighs just under a trillion tons: A23 – the largest iceberg in the world. For comparison, the height of the Vienna DC Tower is 220 meters, and the area of ​​Burgenland is 3,962 square kilometers. The ice giant is currently moving relatively quickly away from Antarctic waters, satellite images released by the European Space Agency (ESA) show.

The giant, named A23a, broke off the Filchner-Ronne ice shelf in 1986, but remained stuck on the seafloor for a long time, according to the European Space Agency. It had eased by 2020, but is only now starting to gain momentum, driven by winds and currents. Researchers are watching closely to see what direction it will take. Like most icebergs in the so-called Weddell Strip, it will likely end up in the South Atlantic.

The European Space Agency is calculating the iceberg’s dimensions and path as part of its CryoSat-2 mission. It is a satellite to monitor ice masses on Earth, especially those in the Arctic. Using a radar altimeter, the satellite can record how much of the iceberg is above the water’s surface. If you use information about ice density, you can calculate how much ice mass is underwater.

Satellite image of A23.Reuters/European Union/Copernicus Sentinel-3

Girder A23 is 350 meters long

It can also be used to determine how much an iceberg is thinning in warmer waters, the BBC reported. “Besides knowing the topography of the sea floor, we know when an iceberg drifts or when it becomes thin enough to break up again,” expert Anne Brackman-Volgman from the Norwegian University of Tromsø said in an interview with the BBC.

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Now, researchers have used CryoSat-2 data to figure out why the iceberg hasn’t moved for the past three decades, according to the BBC: It’s particularly deep in one place. Like the keel, the ice protrudes about 350 meters into the depths. The iceberg has now lost mass and thus broken free. (ed./ag.)