Skip to main content

City-size iceberg drifting away from Antarctica

By Brad Lendon, CNN
updated 2:31 PM EST, Thu November 14, 2013
In mid-October 2011, NASA scientists working in Antarctica discovered a massive crack across the Pine Island Glacier.
In mid-October 2011, NASA scientists working in Antarctica discovered a massive crack across the Pine Island Glacier.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Iceberg could last in open ocean for a year, researcher says
  • Sea ice that kept berg close to Antarctica now melting, scientist says
  • Iceberg separated from glacier in July

(CNN) -- A massive iceberg that broke off an Antarctic glacier in July is now moving toward the open ocean and could pose a threat to busy shipping lanes, researchers reported.

The huge berg is estimated to be about 270 square miles (700 square kilometers) in area, about the size of nation of Singapore or double the size of the city of Atlanta.

"An iceberg that size could survive for a year or longer and it could drift a long way north in that time and end up in the vicinity of world shipping lanes in the Southern Ocean," Robert Marsh, a scientist at the University of Southampton in England, said in a press release this week.

Detecting the dangers of Greenland's giant icebergs

The crack that produced the iceberg is seen in October 2011.
The crack that produced the iceberg is seen in October 2011.

Marsh is part of a team of scientists who have been given an emergency grant to track the iceberg and predict its path so ships traveling through the area can be alerted.

Researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute, using images from the German Space Agency's TerraSAR-X satellite, reported in July that the iceberg was separating from the Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier. It had been kept close to the glacier by sea ice, another researcher, Grant Bigg from the University of Sheffield, told the BBC. But the end of the Antarctic winter has melted some of the sea ice and given the berg a route to the open ocean, he said.

"In the last couple of days, it has begun to break away and now a kilometer or two of clear water has developed between it and the glacier," Bigg told the BBC.

The calving of the massive berg has been a long process. The crack that produced it was first detected by a NASA plane in October 2011.

The researchers say this will be the first time to track the path of such a massive iceberg, something that will be more important as the effects of global warming increase.

Antarctic ice shelves 'tearing apart,' says study

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:14 PM EST, Tue November 25, 2014
Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson says he was just doing his "job right" when he shot and killed black teenager Michael Brown.
updated 8:18 PM EST, Sun November 23, 2014
The interior of the Formosa Boulevard Mass Rapid Transit Station in Kaohsiung, in southern Taiwan.
Stunning stations where your first priority won't be finding the nearest exit.
updated 6:18 PM EST, Tue November 25, 2014
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says women's "nature is different," sparking fury.
updated 5:43 AM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
A 30-year-old woman has been charged with attempting to kill a baby police say spent five days down a drain before being discovered by cyclists.
updated 8:21 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
If it wasn't for a comic's skit, Bill Cosby would still be America's favorite father, says expert.
updated 7:51 PM EST, Sun November 23, 2014
Where do hip young things hang out in Taiwan?
updated 10:50 AM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
Obama orders the most sweeping overhaul of U.S. immigration in decades, prioritizing the deportation of "felons, not families."
updated 4:06 PM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
Fighters loyal to ISIS are now in control of Derna, a city on Libya's Mediterranean coast.
updated 6:19 PM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
China and likely other countries have the capacity to shut down the U.S. power grid, says the NSA.
updated 2:45 PM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
The founder of a U.S. nonprofit that works with returning soldiers is named CNN's Hero of the Year.
updated 7:39 AM EST, Tue November 25, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT