The Heat Is Online

Second Mass of Ross Ice Shelf Ruptures

Second big iceberg breaks off from Antarctica

Reuters News Service April 3,2000

WASHINGTON - A second giant iceberg has broken off from Antarctica and is bumping into a huge iceberg that broke off the Ross Ice Shelf last week, researchers said on Friday.


Matthew Lazzara of the University of Wisconsin's Antarctic Meteorological Research Centre found the latest iceberg, which will be named B-17, while scanning images taken from a satellite orbiting the poles.

He said the new iceberg lies to the north and east of Roosevelt Island and is 80 miles by 12 miles (130 km by 20 km). The larger iceberg is 183 miles by 23 miles (295 km by 37 km), roughly the size of Jamaica.

"The high-resolution satellite data that we receive enables us to track these bergs easily, at least in clear conditions," Lazzara said in a statement.

The images show the two giant icebergs, and a third, smaller one known as B-16, jostling one another just off the island. The researchers said it was not yet clear if the icebergs would pose a threat to shipping.

Researchers say large chunks are breaking off of Antarctica for several reasons, some due to global warming. They say, for example, that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has been steadily melting since the end of the last ice age. But they also stress that human-induced global warming can speed the process.

Much of Antarctica consists of ice sheets with no ground underneath. If it shrinks, the process could not only help raise ocean levels but could help shift ocean circulation and weather patterns, bringing drought, severe storms and the wider spread of tropical diseases.

The largest iceberg ever reported was seen in 1956 and was 60 miles wide and 208 miles long (95.6 km by 335 km), or 12,000 square miles (48,564 sq km) in area, more than twice the size of the state of Connecticut.

A satellite image of the new iceberg can be viewed at: http://uwamrc.ssec.wisc.edu/amrc/iceberg.html.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE

Near-Record Iceberg Reported in Antarctica

MADISON, Wis. (Reuters) - An iceberg of near-record size -- about twice as big in area as the state of Delaware -- is breaking off from Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf and may soon be adrift, the University of Wisconsin said on Wednesday.

The school's Antarctic Meteorological Research Center said polar satellites clearly show the fissures outlining the oblong chunk of ice 183 miles long and 22 miles wide.

"This is a very big iceberg, close to a record if not a new record," said Matthew Lazzara, a scientist at the center. "It's not often that you see them of this magnitude."

The iceberg is much larger than one that broke away last October and posed a potential shipping hazard to vessels rounding Cape Horn. That chunk was 40 miles by 11 miles.

The center said the new iceberg may soon be adrift in the Ross Sea but no information was available on how soon or whether it might pose a shipping hazard.

Photos and information on the iceberg may be found at http://www.news.wisc.edu/newsphotos/iceberg.html and http://uwamrc.ssec.wisc.edu/amrc/iceberg.html.