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 2013 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Environmental

Fortum Buys Stake in Wave Power Startup

Finland's top utility, state-controlled Fortum, on Monday said it has acquired a 14 percent stake in Finnish wave energy developer Wello. Wello has developed

Cavernous Swiss Power Plant Undermined by Renewable Energy

Deep in a Swiss mountain, workers have blasted out a cathedral-sized hole for a power plant that will help keep Europe's lights on, but the profit outlook for the 1.

China's National Carbon Market to Start in 2016

China plans to roll out its national market for carbon permit trading in 2016, an official said Sunday, adding that the government is close to finalising rules

News

Fortum Buys Stake in Wave Power Startup

Finland's top utility, state-controlled Fortum, on Monday said it has acquired a 14 percent stake in Finnish wave energy developer Wello. Wello has developed

Gazprom Neft Starts Oil Production, Shipments from Iraqi Badra Field

Russia's Gazprom Neft said on Monday it started commercial production and shipments of oil produced at its Iraqi Badra oil field. Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of state gas company Gazprom ,

Statoil Says Normal Operations at In Amenas Gas Plant Resuming

Normal operations are resuming at the In Amenas gas plant in Algeria 18 months after a raid by Islamist militants killed forty employees, one of the plant's operators, Statoil, said on Monday.

Marine Science

VIKING Saatsea Puts Crew Training in its Place

VIKING Saatsea will be at SMM 2014 to showcase the revolution it has brought about in crew training – moving everything on board to cut costs, speed up certification,

BMT WBM to Showcase TUFLOW at World Bank Seminar

BMT WBM ( (BMT), a subsidiary of BMT Group Ltd, a leading international engineering and risk management consultancy, is delighted to announce that it will be presenting

RWE Dea Helps Cleveland Juniors Reach Goals

Yesterday, a new club house for the Cleveland Juniors Football Club in Middlesbrough in northern England was officially opened. With support from RWE Dea, the

Arctic Operations

Too Eager to Drill for Arctic Oil - Greenpeace

Greenpeace's ship, the Esperanza, is still on station in the Arctic to expose renewed Norwegian efforts to drill for oil in this pristine environment. Last

Rosneft Restores Meteorological Observations System in Kara Sea

As part of a large-scale summer Arctic research expedition "Kara-Summer - 2014" a meteorological station was installed that meets the latest modern requirements for such equipment,

Warming Aids Arctic Economies, but Short of 'Cold Rush'

Climate change is aiding shipping, fisheries and tourism in the Arctic but the economic gains fall short of a "cold rush" for an icy region where temperatures are

Ocean Observation

BMT WBM to Showcase TUFLOW at World Bank Seminar

BMT WBM ( (BMT), a subsidiary of BMT Group Ltd, a leading international engineering and risk management consultancy, is delighted to announce that it will be presenting

Rosneft Restores Meteorological Observations System in Kara Sea

As part of a large-scale summer Arctic research expedition "Kara-Summer - 2014" a meteorological station was installed that meets the latest modern requirements for such equipment,

Schlumberger Launches First Photorealistic Reservoir Geology Service

Schlumberger today launched the Quanta Geo* photorealistic reservoir geology service at the Offshore Northern Seas Annual Conference and Exhibition. The new

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Offshore Oil Port Authority Salvage Ship Electronics Ship Repair Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Sonar Winch
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: 0.1877 sec (5 req/sec)