The huge iceberg heading for the South Atlantic island splits

A huge iceberg heading for the island of South Georgia in the South Atlantic split into three large pieces, according to scientists.

The iceberg – nicknamed the A68a by scientists – broke off the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica in 2017. In recent weeks, it has approached the island of South Georgia, a remote British overseas territory in southern South America, raising concerns the wildlife of the island.

Scientists worry that an iceberg could die on the seabed of the wildlife-rich island of South Georgia and disrupt underwater ecosystems. They were also worried that one or more icebergs might block penguins heading out to sea for food.

A large number of whales, seals and penguins feed off the coast of South Georgia.

The A68berg iceberg disintegrated into three large fragments on Tuesday.European Space Agency

Andrew Fleming of the British Antarctic Survey has been following the A68a for more than three years and told NBC News that two new icebergs, called the A68e and A68f, were “born” away from the A68a on Tuesday.

The two new fragments, 253 and 87 square miles each, as well as the original A68a, now larger than 1,000 square miles – about two-thirds the size of Rhode Island – are still huge, according to Fleming. They are expected to continue to move close to the island of South Georgia, and their potential to reach the island still exists.

“Fragmentation doesn’t eliminate the chance of this happening, but now it won’t be as high,” Fleming said. “But there is still the potential to disturb things.”

Download the NBC News app for breaking news and politics

Satellite images provided by the US National Ice Center on Tuesday showed the boundaries from where the pieces of ice separated.

Satellite data has been instrumental in monitoring the iceberg in its journey from birth to destruction, Adrian Luckman, a satellite imaging glaciologist at Swansea University in the UK, told the BBC.

“Apart from being one of the largest icebergs ever recorded, the A68 must also be one of the most watched,” Luckman said, adding that the iceberg is finally beginning to disintegrate nearly 3.5 years since it disappeared. to the Larsen C ice shelf.

Fleming said it will become clearer what the new pieces of iceberg are heading for in the next few days or weeks, but expects them to be pushed by ocean currents to the north of the island.

He also expects more ruptures as the two new fragments of iceberg begin to disintegrate further.

Reuters contributed to the report.