Iceberg B17B South of Australia

On December 13 the U.S. Geological Survey's Landsat 7 earth observing satellite imaged a massive iceberg drifting toward Australia. The iceberg, labeled 'B17B' came off the Antarctic ice shelf in 2000 and recently got caught in wind and current patterns that pulled it north. The size of the iceberg (originally 140 X 115 square km), makes this break from the ice shelf a unique event. The iceberg is in the process of breaking up as it drifts north and east into warmer waters. Scientists and navigation experts are tracking the icebergs as they pose risks for shipping in the region.

The Landsat image illustrates the larger iceberg and the smaller units which have broken off. A sensor problem causes the lines in the image along the off center portions. Nevertheless, the data are valuable as they show the size of the iceberg and the smaller units as they 'calve.' Subsequent images will be used to track the direction and size of the units as they continue to drift into shipping lanes.

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Friday, December 18, 2009