In 1986, A23a broke away from the Antarctic coastline and ran aground in the Weddell Sea, turning into an ice island. According to the latest data obtained by scientists who have detected movement signals on the ice piece in recent years, A23a has moved again outside Antarctica.
We asked Prof. Dr. Burcu Özsoy, Director of TÜBİTAK MAM Polar Research Institute and Coordinator of the 7th National Antarctic Science Expedition, who has conducted scientific research in Antarctica many times, why this gigantic iceberg, which has an area of approximately 3,900 square kilometers and a thickness of up to 400 meters, moved and its possible effects.
Glaciers are of great importance in protecting and balancing the climate system, sea level and temperature, ocean currents, freshwater resources and all habitats. Especially in recent years, glaciers have been adversely affected by global warming. A23a is the closest example of this. Prof. Dr. Burcu Özsoy stated that the main factor in the activation of A23a may be the increasing average temperatures in recent years:
Average sea water and atmospheric temperatures, which have been increasing with climate change, reached new records in 2022 and 2023. A23a, which has not been able to move for years, has also been affected by this warming. It is thought that the iceberg was also subjected to melting under the sea, causing its movement. This iceberg, located in the Weddell Sea on the Antarctic peninsula, started drifting last year and we can predict that it will break apart piece by piece in the coming days. After it breaks apart, the rate of melting will increase, and in the coming months and years the iceberg may melt completely and melt into the sea water.
What are the consequences of melting icebergs?
Many human factors, especially carbon and greenhouse gas emissions, lead to global warming and climate change. Ice masses melting under the influence of this warming become both the result and the cause of the process. How?
“Melting icebergs raise sea levels, affecting all of our world’s seas. Thus, during the melting periods of the ice ages, many land masses were flooded. Because melting icebergs are freshwater and mix with salty seawater, they change the system of ocean currents, causing climate change.”
“Sea level could rise by 60 meters”
Studies show that glaciers, which are very important for the climate balance in the world, are exposed to more and more heat every day. So how far can this effect and reaction go, what happens if all the glaciers melt? According to Özsoy, in this scenario, some of Turkey’s coasts could be flooded…
“If all of the Antarctic glaciers melt, sea levels in the world will rise by 60 meters and this shows us that some of Turkey’s coasts will be flooded. The melting of icebergs and the increase in the amount of melting is the biggest harbinger of rising sea levels in the first place. Unfortunately, we are witnessing these melts more and more every year in the region where our Turkish Science Camp is located on the Antarctic peninsula.”
Searching for clues to climate change in the most extreme parts of the world
Prof. Dr. Burcu Özsoy, who is at the head of Turkey’s National Polar Expeditions, made the following statements about the studies carried out under harsh climatic conditions:
As TÜBİTAK MAM Polar Research Institute, we are investigating the clues of climate change by going kilometers away from our country to the most extreme points of the world with our team and National Polar Science Expeditions, which are joined by new researchers every year. Our institute ensures that our country flies the flag of science by paying close attention to both polar regions. Our country’s polar research is managed under the coordination of a single roof, regular polar expeditions are organized every year, and our young generation and the public are raised awareness on education and awareness issues.
News source: TRT