11 February 2022

#AntarcticLog: Where is that giant ice chunk now?

Posted by Shane Hanlon

#AntarcticLog is a series of comics by Karen Romano Young. You can find the originals here.

How long has that big chunk of Larsen C ice shelf called A-68A been floating around the Southern Ocean? Almost the whole time I’ve been drawing #AntarcticLog comics. Number 7 reported on its calving in the Weddell Sea.  Some chunk! Its area was equivalent to the entire state of Delaware. 

Fast forward 2 1/2 years to Log 174, November 2020, and you’ll find that A-68A hadn’t moved forward fast at all. It bobbed its massive mass around the Weddell Sea for a few years before finally drifting into “Iceberg Alley” — the northward path most icebergs  take into warmer waters.  Not only did A-68A draw the attention of scientists wanting to anticipate iceberg action in the face of increased Antarctic thawing — and the herd of calves sure to come with it — but it was on a collision course with South Georgia Island. 

And then there was… nothing? Don’t be deceived.  Unlike the Wicked Witch of the West, A-68A still had plenty of punch after melting.  Scientists relying on satellite data that let them figure out just how much punch (fresh water punch, that is) was spiking the Scotia Sea around South Georgia Island, and will observe to see its impact on natural conditions there. For now, the series ends with this week’s comic, Log 207. 

Karen Romano Young is a writer, artist, deep-sea diver, and polar explorer. Follow her on Twitter & Instagram