A TRILLION ton iceberg nearly three times the size of Greater London has been tracked by the RAF as it heads towards a remote island in the South Atlantic.
A reconnaissance aircraft captured startling images of massive A68a – the world’s largest iceberg – as it closed in on the British territory of South Georgia.
The A400m transporter plane buzzed over the 4,200-sq-km block to monitor its increasingly ragged state.
Startling photos reveal multiple cracks and fissures in its surface as well as gaps where huge icy chunks have already fallen off.
“I know I speak on behalf of all of the crew involved when I say this is certainly a unique and unforgettable task to be involved in,” said Squadron Leader Michael Wilkinson.
The sheer size the floating ice block meant it was impossible to capture it all in one single shot from overhead.
Scientists fear there is a possibility the iceberg could become stuck in the shallow waters around South Georgia which could pose a threat to its ecosystem.
If the floating giant were to run aground it may cause problems for the island’s seal and penguin population as access to food could be severely cut off.
“A close-in iceberg has massive implications for where land-based predators might be able to forage,” said Professor Geraint Tarling from the British Antarctic Survey.
“When you’re talking about penguins and seals during the period that’s really crucial to them, during pup and chick-rearing, the actual distance they have to travel to find food really matters.
“If they have to do a big detour, it means they’re not going to get back to their young in time to prevent them starving to death in the interim.
“Ecosystems can and will bounce back of course, but there’s a danger here that if this iceberg gets stuck, it could be there for 10 years,” Prof Tarling told the BBC.
The huge berg is now just 125 miles from South Georgia, which is about 800 miles south east of the Falklands.
Relentless wave action is breaking off countless chunks which are known as “bergy bits” and “growlers”.
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But some of the chunks are so large they will also need tracking because of the additional hazard they will now pose to shipping.
The A400m’s new imagery will be closely studied to try to understand how the berg might behave in the near future.
Although currently heading straight at South Georgia, A68a is being carried in fast-moving waters that should divert the block around the south of the island.