From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Icebergs
Mains level : Impact of climate changes on Cryosphere
A research mission is held to find out the impact of a giant floating iceberg A-68s on the wildlife and marine life on a sub-Antarctic island.
Q. How does the cryosphere affect global climate? (CSM 2017)
What are Icebergs?
- An iceberg is a large piece of freshwater ice that has broken off a glacier or an ice shelf and is floating freely in open (salt) water.
- Small bits of disintegrating icebergs are called “growlers” or “bergy bits”.
- Much of an iceberg is below the surface which led to the expression “tip of the iceberg” to illustrate a small part of a larger unseen issue.
- Icebergs are considered a serious maritime hazard, especially for shipping industries.
- The iceberg — named A-68s — is travelling at varying speeds depending on local conditions, but at its fastest was travelling about 20 kilometres a day.
- The huge iceberg — the size of the U.S. state of Delaware — has been floating north since it broke away from Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf in 2017.
- It is now about 75 kilometres from the island of South Georgia, and scientists are concerned over the risks it poses to the wildlife in the area if it grounds near the island.
- South Georgia is home to colonies of tens of thousands of penguins and 6 million fur seals, which could be threatened by the iceberg during their breeding season.
- The waters near the island are also one of the world’s largest marine protected areas and house more marine species than the Galapagos.
- Destruction by the iceberg will release this stored carbon back into the water and, potentially, the atmosphere, which would be a further negative impact.