New Iceberg forms

March 22, 2000 | Mike Key

A new iceberg has broken from Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf, just east of a massive berg (B-15) discovered March 17. Senior researcher Matthew Lazzara of the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Antarctic Meteorological Research Center found the latest iceberg on polar-orbiting satellite imagery taken the morning of March 30.

The new iceberg, said Lazzara, lies to the north and east of Roosevelt Island and is slightly smaller than the larger iceberg discovered midmonth. The new iceberg is 130 km by 20 km or 80 by 12 miles. The larger iceberg is 295 km by 37 km (about 183 by 23 miles). Lazzara continues to monitor B-15, B-16 (a small fragment of B-15 that broke off early) and the new iceberg on satellite imagery. The new berg, said Lazzara, had broken into at least three pieces by March 31. The National Ice Center numbers icebergs as they are discovered; the new icebergs will be most likely be named soon.

The eastern end of B-15 can be seen hitting the new iceberg pieces, corroborating geophysical predictions of “tidal jostling” that would stimulate another calving (or ice shelf break up).

The Antarctic Meteorological Research Center is the only Antarctic site that provides real-time satellite imagery. “That,” said Lazzara, “is how we found this new iceberg. The high-resolution satellite data that we receive enables us to track these bergs easily, at least in clear conditions.”

UW–Madison’s AMRC is housed at the Space Science and Engineering Center and is supported primarily by the National Science Foundation.

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