Iceberg as big as Singapore could cross paths with shipping lanes

BY newsdesk  November 15, 2013 at 11:20 AM EST


Before and after photos of an iceberg that was part of the Pine Island Glacier, separating from Antarctica. Images by Holli Riebeek/NASA Earth Observatory

An iceberg roughly the size of Singapore, which broke off the Antarctic’s Pine Island Glacier in July, is now moving away from the coast, NASA researchers said Thursday.

The iceberg, was initially held close to the glacier by sea ice, University of Sheffield’s Grant Bigg told the BBC. But the it started moving toward open water this week. NASA scientists first noticed a crack in the ice nearly two years ago.

Although icebergs move slowly, the large mass could eventually cross paths with international shipping lanes, Robert Marsh, a researcher monitoring the iceberg, said in a press release.

The iceberg can survive in open ocean for a year or longer, he added.

Marsh belongs to a team of researchers tracking and predicting the iceberg’s path. Icebergs as large as this one — 21 by 12 miles — break off glaciers every two years, the researchers said.

As for environmental impact, the freshwater melting off the iceberg could affect the ocean currents.

If these events become more common, there will be a build-up of freshwater, which could have lasting effects,” Bigg said.