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Huge ice cube in Antarctic waters.

Huge ice cube in Antarctic waters

An iceberg twice the size of Rhode Island has broken off the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica, the National Science Foundation reported last week. In this infrared satellite image, taken Oct. 13, the arrow show the iceberg in the process of separating from the shelf. The iceberg measures approximately 98 miles long and 25 miles wide, with an estimated average thickness of 750 feet.

Since the image was taken, the iceberg has drifted 25 nautical miles to the northwest. At the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, remote-sensing experts have monitored this piece since May and are not sure where it will drift. For now, it presents no hazard to shipping, and it may be years, if ever, before it drifts far to the north.

The Antarctic has several ice shelves, which are thick sheets of floating, fresh-water ice that have slid off the Antarctic continent (located below the mountain range in the satellite image). Thousands of years' worth of snow accumulation forms the continental ice cap. At a snail's pace, it flows down to the sea, where it replenishes the parts of the ice sheet that break off.

Scientists report that the number of extremely large bergs has dramatically increased in the last year and a half. This piece joins four others that are floating at various points around the Antarctic. Two of these have drifted north, near the Falkland Islands off the coast of South America, and may soon enter shipping lanes. Researchers cannot explain why so many large pieces are now breaking off. They speculate that it may be related to an apparent warming trend in global temperatures.
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Title Annotation:iceberg twice the size of Rhode Island
Publication:Science News
Date:Nov 14, 1987
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