Giant iceberg breaks away from a Glacier in Antarctica and may enter shipping lanes

Published on : Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Iceberg_B15A huge grant has been awarded to UK researchers to keep track of the giant iceberg in Antartica that may enter shipping lanes.


It has been observed from images that there are several kilometres of water between the icebergs which is about 700 sq km (270 sq miles) and the glaciers.


A sum of £50,000 award will fund a six-month project that will also predict its movement through the Southern Ocean.


Ever since the icy giant broke away from the Pine Island Glacier (PIG) in July it raised alarm in the region. A Nasa aircraft was the first to detect the expanding crack across the Pine Island Glacier in 2011.n However the glacier stayed iced as it was still winters in Antarctica.


However since the last couple of days the Pine Island Glacier has begun to break and now a kilometer or two of clear water has developed between it and the glacier. It takes time for the bergs to break and get out of Pine Island Bay but once they do that they can either go eastwards along the coast or they can… circle out into the main part of the Southern Ocean said an expert.


As observed by Prof Bigg, one iceberg was tracked going through The Drake Passage – the body of water between South America’s Cape Horn and Antarctica’s South Shetland Islands.


If the iceberg did follow this trajectory, it would bring the Singapore-size ice island into busy international shipping lanes.


Sheffield and the University of Southampton’s scientists will team up and use data from a number of satellites, including the German TerraSAR-X, which first alerted researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute to the July calving.


PIG is described as the longest and fastest flowing glacier in the Antarctic, with vast icebergs being calved from ice shelf every 6-10 years. Previous notable events occurred in 2007 and 2001.


Scientists first noticed a spectacular crack spreading across the surface of the PIG in October 2011. Scientist tracking the movement observed that the iceberg will move toward the Southern Ocean.


He said that the team will track the berg’s movements in the coming 12 months and if the berg does move in the shipping lanes then a warning will be issued via several worldwide ice hazard agencies.

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