Impact of Giant Iceberg A68A on the Physical Conditions of the Surface South Atlantic, Derived Using Remote Sensing

Giant icebergs release cold, fresh meltwater as they drift, perturbing the physical conditions of the surface ocean. This study uses satellite-derived sea surface salinity and temperature measurements to explore the physical impact of supergiant iceberg A68A between September 2020 and June 2021. During A68A's drift through the Scotia Sea in austral spring, gradual but persistent edge-wasting contributed to a freshening of several psu extending hundreds of kilometers ahead of the iceberg, whilst the cooling signal was more pronounced in the iceberg's wake. The magnitude of the physical perturbation intensified during A68A's breakup near South Georgia. Several large meltwater lenses surrounding the descendant icebergs displayed temperature anomalies of up to −4.5°C, whilst the salinity measurements indicated a surface (skin-depth) anomaly regularly exceeding order −10 psu. The perturbations stretched at times >1,000 km and persisted for >2 months following A68A's melt in April 2021.


Publication status:
Authors: Smith, R.M. ORCIDORCID record for R.M. Smith, Bigg, G.R.

On this site: Roseanne Smith
28 September, 2023
Geophysical Research Letters / 50
Link to published article: