Chicago-size Iceberg Unleashed

Iceberg could impair maritime shipping

Pine Island Glacier Antartica Iceberg

This MODIS image, taken by NASA’s Aqua satellite on November 10, shows an iceberg that was part of the Pine Island Glacier and is now separated from the Antarctica continent.     Photo: Courtesy of NASA

When the Titanic sunk, newspapers estimated the iceberg’s size in feet; today, an iceberg that broke off of Antarctica is being measured in miles.

According to The Wall Street Journal, an iceberg measuring 270 square miles that was once part of the Pine Island Glacier separated from Antarctica earlier this month. The floating mass could pose a hazard for maritime shipping between South Africa and South America.

“It’s about the size of Chicago, or Singapore,” Robert Marsh, an oceanographer at the University of Southampton, told The Journal. “It could stay around the Antarctic coast, which poses no real issues.”

But currents could easily push it north where it could disrupt international commerce.

“As it melts, it will break up and this could create real problems to shipping as the pieces will cover a wider area,” Grant Bigg, of the University of Sheffield, also told in The Journal.

Britain's National Environment Research Council awarded Marsh and Biggs £50,000 ($80,585) in an emergency grant to study the iceberg and predict it’s likely path.

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