Icebergs running ashore of major landmasses and causing extensive destruction probably wouldn’t land in the top 10 of worst things that have happened in 2020. That’s saying more about the year than this actual phenomenon, but that’s where we are at this point. In the past, our major concerns around icebergs were when our party ships would run into them on cross-Atlantic cruises, killing almost everyone on board. But now we’ve got to sweat out icebergs coming for us on land. That’s what is about to happen to a small island because an iceberg is bearing down on it. There’s speculation it will wipe out everything in its path.
The iceberg in question is headed for South Georgia Island, a British territory that is part of the South Sandwich Island chain. There’s the belief that because of the size of the iceberg, it will cause massive devastation to the entire area, which sits in the Atlantic Ocean north of Antarctica. The iceberg broke free of an antarctic ice shelf about three years ago and has been on a collision course ever since.
The iceberg (labeled A68-A) measures 93 miles long and 30 miles wide. That’s more than twice the size of Rhode Island and scientists are predicting it will cause massive devastation to both the wildlife living on South Georgia Island, but also everything along the ocean floors as it barrels its way toward impact.
But before we need to worry about a group of humans standing on the shore, waiting for the glacial pace (literally) of destruction to wash over them in a frozen hellscape, it’s important to know that no people actually live on the island. It’s uninhabitable because of the freezing conditions (among other things). But at risk are the more than one million penguins who call South Georgia Island home. There’s some chance this group is completely wiped out when the iceberg makes landfall.
Scientists are estimating the iceberg hits South Georgia in the next two weeks, but that’s simply a guess as the speed and movement haven’t been consistent over the last three years. There’s a significant margin of error when it comes to the timing. But there is little doubt about the destruction it will cause to the aforementioned penguins because they will be cut off from accessing the seawater for food. A literal wall of ice will stand in their way.
While icebergs making landfall might sound like a once-in-a-lifetime event, it’s worth noting that it’s a little more common than you might expect. Something similar happened with iceberg A-38 back in 2004 when it hit, you guessed it, South Georgia Island killing a bunch of seals and penguins. Eventually, it broke apart into smaller pieces and came loose from the island which helped keep some of that population intact. But this latest one though is much bigger.
It’s been a bad year for mother nature wreaking havoc across the globe. Pandemics, asteroid near-misses, murder hornets, and hurricanes are just among some of the things we’ve had to deal with. Sweating out icebergs coming loose and leveling whole islands isn’t something I want to sign up for anytime soon.