L’iceberg A68a, qui s’est détaché de l’Antarctique en juillet 2017, menace désormais la petite île de Georgie du Sud, située au sud de l’océan Atlantique. Cet iceberg géant, qui mesure environ 4.200 kilomètres carrés (soit plus grand que l’île elle-même), n’est plus qu’à une centaine de kilomètres des côtes selon les observations du satellite Copernicus.

« Si le crash se produit, cela représente une grave menace pour les manchots, les phoques, ainsi que pour tous les prédateurs terrestres dont les voies d’accès à la nourriture seraient bloquées », alerte Geraint Tarling, un scientifique du British Antarctic Survey (BAS), sur le site de la BBC. « Les écosystèmes pourraient être perturbés pendant plus de 10 ans, et l’économie de l’île pourrait également en pâtir, avertit le chercheur. Si les manchots et les phoques doivent faire des milliers de kilomètres de détour pour trouver du poisson, ils pourraient mourir de faim. » Sans compter tous les animaux vivant au fond de la mer qui seraient écrasés à l’endroit de l’impact de l’iceberg, qui plonge à 200 mètres au-dessous de la surface.
 

Le crash pourrait toutefois avoir quelques conséquences positives en relâchant d’énormes quantités de nutriments emmagasinés dans la glace qui viendraient alimenter le phytoplancton, procurant ainsi de la nourriture à toute la chaîne alimentaire. Il est aussi possible que l’iceberg, entraîné par des courants, évite finalement la Georgie du Sud. « S’il contourne l’île et se dirige vers le nord, il devrait alors commencer à se désagréger en entrant dans les zones plus chaudes. L’action des vagues devrait également contribuer à le disloquer », prédit Andrew Fleming, également chercheur au BAS.

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