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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

11/14/2013 (5 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Scientists had been expecting glacier to break off from Antarctica for some time

After nearly six months, an Antarctic iceberg as big as the country of Singapore has headed out to sea. The body had lingered in its birthing bay for awhile. Grant Bigg, an ocean modeler at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom says that "We've been waiting for this to happen."

Finally breaking free on July 8, 2013, the floe measured about 278 square miles, according to tracking by TerraSAR-X, an Earth-observing satellite operated by the German Space Agency.

Finally breaking free on July 8, 2013, the floe measured about 278 square miles, according to tracking by TerraSAR-X, an Earth-observing satellite operated by the German Space Agency.

Article Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

11/14/2013 (5 months ago)

Published in Green

Keywords: Iceberg, m Antarctica, calving, ice warnings


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The most recent satellite images show a couple of miles of open water between the iceberg and the glacier. Strong winds blowing off the continent are pushing the iceberg away from its parent, the giant Pine Island Glacier.

The ice block took more than two years to calve, or break off from Pine Island Glacier. An enormous crack crossing the glacier was first discovered during a NASA IceBridge research flight in October 2011.

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Finally breaking free on July 8, 2013, the floe measured about 278 square miles, according to tracking by TerraSAR-X, an Earth-observing satellite operated by the German Space Agency.

Icebergs that originate from the ocean from West Antarctica may stay close to the continent's coastline and cause little hazard. They can also launch out into the Southern Ocean toward the Drake Passage near South America's Cape Horn.

Bigg along with his colleagues plan to try to predict the iceberg's path up to a year in advance. The modeling will help the shipping industry improve ice warnings, he said.

Huge icebergs such typically shatter into several pieces. Bigg's team will track and model the fragments if the chunk collapses.

Already, a few small pieces have broken off the west side of the iceberg as it moved in the past few days, Bigg said.

"Each of the last three years has seen a giant iceberg calve, from either Greenland or Antarctica," Bigg says. "Being able to track and forecast the tracks of these huge blocks of ice will be a major benefit to the shipping industry, particularly as more ships begin to use polar waters, as Arctic sea ice melts. This ability is what we aim to develop."

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