Giant Antarctic Iceberg Hasn’t Moved Since It Formed

Melissa Stusinski - Author

Aug. 3 2013, Updated 8:47 p.m. ET

The giant iceberg that broke off of Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier has yet to move from the coastline. The massive chunk of ice is the size of Chicago.

It broke off of the glacier on July 8 and was expected to move out into Pine Island Bay and the Amundsen Sea shortly after.

However, LiveScience reports that a new false-color image of the 280-square-mile iceberg shows it is still nestled against the glacier that birthed it last month.

The image was taken by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA’s Terra satellite on July 14.

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NASA scientists first discovered the potentially massive iceberg when they did a flyover survey in October 2012. At the time, the fracture spanned about 15 miles in length and about 164 feet in width, notes UPI. But in May 2012, images taken of the area showed a second fissure forming near the topside of the first crack.

The resulting ice melt and glacier movement eventually caused the massive chunk of ice to break off. The process if cyclical and happens as a result of the glacier’s movement. But while several small icebergs may break off in the course of a few years, the Pine Island Glacier’s massive iceberg is definitely of note.

The glacier it comes from is also the longest and fastest-changing on the West Antarctic Sheet and last produced massive icebergs in 2007 and 2008.

But those icebergs moved away from the ice sheet and out into the bay. It is unclear how long it will take the iceberg to move out to sea this time. A number of things could be hampering its attempt to move away from the coast. Along with rock and ice creating friction, winds and currents could be pressing the iceberg against the coast, rather than pushing it out to sea.

Meanwhile, scientists will be looking to see if the massive iceberg’s breaking off (also called calving) impacted how the Antarctic glacier flows.


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