Remnants of massive iceberg still floating 13 years later

By Expeditions / 11 April 2013

Remnants of massive iceberg still floating 13 years later

A remnant piece of the mighty B-15 iceberg has been captured by NASA satellite — 13 years since it calved off Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf.

The iceberg, known as B-15T was floating along the Amery Ice Shelf - nearly halfway around the continent from where it started. 

The original B-15 iceberg was the world’s largest recorded ever recorded, 11,000 square kilometres, nearly the size of the USA state of Connecticut. Calving off off the Ross Ice Shelf in March 2000, it broke up into a number of smaller icebergs, with B-15A accounting for more than half of its original size. Even these 'smaller' icebergs were so large that they blocked the channel into McMurdo Sound, which leads to the USA's McMurdo Station and New Zealand's Scott Base. The sea ice remained blocked for a number of years, making re-supply of the stations via the sea difficult and creating challenges for penguin and seal populations - killing some and forcing others to move to less-than-ideal breeding grounds.

GPS stations were installed on several of the icebergs in the early 2000s to track their progress and collect meteorological and other data. The icebergs B-15A and B-15J were tracked until late 2010 when the GPS stations failed. They were south of New Zealand at the time. Another iceberg C16, is south of South Georgia Island after circumnavigating the continent from the Ross Sea to the Weddell Sea.

The icebergs and calving events have offered researchers a wealth of information about ice dynamics. Scientists still have data to recover from C-16, and one noted, “so if anybody gets out there near it (a cruise ship), we’d be happy to tell them where the data recorders are.” Research on the bergs continues to this day.

It's not impossible for icebergs to survive for up to 25 years if they stay in Antarctica's chilly coastal waters, but the ice will quickly melt if they travel north.

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