Huge Iceberg Broken off Antarctica Heads for Open Ocean

Posted by Eric Haun
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Pine Island Glacier rift seen from the Digital Mapping System camera aboard NASA's DC-8 on Oct. 26, 2011 (Image Credit: NASA / DMS)

Scientists are monitoring an iceberg roughly six times the size of Manhattan - one of the largest now in existence - that broke off from an Antarctic glacier and is heading into the open ocean.

NASA glaciologist Kelly Brunt said on Wednesday the iceberg covers about 255 square miles (660 square km) and is up to a third of a mile (500 meters) thick. Known as B31, the iceberg separated from Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier last November, Brunt added.

"It's one that's large enough that it warrants monitoring," Brunt said in a telephone interview, noting that U.S. government organizations including the National Ice Center keep an eye on dozens of icebergs at any given time.

The iceberg's present location is not in an area heavily navigated by ships.

"There's not a lot of shipping traffic down there. We're not particularly concerned about shipping lanes. We know where all the big ones are," she said.

Scientists are especially interested in this iceberg not only because of its size but because it originated in an unexpected location, said Brunt.

"It's like a large sheet cake floating through the Southern Ocean," she added.

The glacial crack that created the iceberg was first detected in 2011, according to Brunt, a scientist with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and Morgan State University in Maryland.

Pine Island Glacier has been closely studied over the past two decades because it has been thinning and draining rapidly and may be an important contributor to sea level rise, scientists say.

They say the iceberg has floated across Pine Island Bay, a basin of the Amundsen Sea, and will likely be swept up soon in the swift currents of the Southern Ocean.

"We are doing some research on local ocean currents to try to explain the motion properly. It has been surprising how there have been periods of almost no motion, interspersed with rapid flow," iceberg researcher Grant Bigg of the University of Sheffield in England said in a statement from NASA Earth Observatory.

"There were a couple of occasions early on when there might have been partial grounding or collisions with the sea floor, as B31 bounced from one side of the bay to the other," Bigg said.

(Reporting by Will Dunham; editing by Gunna Dickson)

  • A crack in the Pine Island Glacier ice shelf seen by NASA on Oct. 14 (Image Credit: NASA / Michael Studinger)

    A crack in the Pine Island Glacier ice shelf seen by NASA on Oct. 14 (Image Credit: NASA / Michael Studinger)

Maritime Reporter September 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Environmental

Ecoships Claims 15% Ship Efficiency Gain

Ecoships introduced a customized version of the Six Sigma DMAIC approach to process and performance evaluation in order to optimize the energy-efficiency of the vessels under its management.

IBIA Welcomes MEPC Bunker Compromise

The compromise solution on the issue of ensuring bunker quality agreed at the 67th meeting of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 67) has been

Interferry Applauds IMO Consideration of BWTS Exemption

Interferry has praised a decision made at last week’s meeting of the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) that could exempt certain ferry operators

News

Rederij Groen Takes Delivery of 7-Waves

Rederij Groen’s entire SRSV fleet built by Damen Maaskant Shipyards Stellendam. Dutch offshore services company Rederij Groen has taken delivery of the 7-Waves,

UASC Targets Expansion to Beat Container Market Blues

UASC expects to reach volume of 2.35 mln TEU in 2014 Global carriers still struggling with weak conditions United Arab Shipping Company (UASC) is on a major expansion drive,

Ecoships Claims 15% Ship Efficiency Gain

Ecoships introduced a customized version of the Six Sigma DMAIC approach to process and performance evaluation in order to optimize the energy-efficiency of the vessels under its management.

Marine Science

New Oil Field Found in British North Sea

GDF SUEZ E&P UK Ltd and BP today announced a new exploration discovery in the UK Central North Sea. The discovery, which spans GDF SUEZ operated block 30/1f

Bright Outlook for BWM Convention

The Danish Maritime Authority informed that the Ballast Water Management Convention is now one step closer to ratification following last week’s meeting of United

Nordic Wins with Noble

Nordic Maritime, a leading offshore service operator, today announced a five year time charter for its DP2 IMR Subsea vessel, Mokul Nordic, which has been awarded by Noble Energy,

Arctic Operations

Rederij Groen Takes Delivery of 7-Waves

Rederij Groen’s entire SRSV fleet built by Damen Maaskant Shipyards Stellendam. Dutch offshore services company Rederij Groen has taken delivery of the 7-Waves,

New Oil Field Found in British North Sea

GDF SUEZ E&P UK Ltd and BP today announced a new exploration discovery in the UK Central North Sea. The discovery, which spans GDF SUEZ operated block 30/1f

MEPC Makes Progress on Energy Efficiency, Emissions

The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) met for its 67th session from October 13-17, 2014, at IMO Headquarters in London.

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Security Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Offshore Oil Port Authority Ship Electronics Ship Repair Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.3552 sec (3 req/sec)