Saturday, November 14, 2009

Iceberg Spotted Near Australia

A giant iceberg seen off Macquarie Island halfway between Antarctica and Australia Photo: EPA.

Macquarie Island, located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, is a remote, largely uninhabited island forming part of the Australian state of Tasmania. The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) maintains a permanent base, the Macquarie Island Station, on the island. The base's residents, the island's only inhabitants, range in numbers from 20 to 40 people throughout the year.

It was the scientific experts stationed on Macquarie Island who were the first to see this gigantic chunk of ice measuring 2,300’ long with an estimated depth of more than 1,000’.

"I've never seen anything like it - we looked out to the horizon and just saw this huge floating island of ice," said fur seal biologist Dean Miller.

Neal Young, an Australian Antarctic Division glaciologist, predicts that the flat-stopped slab could break down even further, causing dozens of smaller icebergs to float freely in the direction of New Zealand causing a possible shipping hazard.

He said, "It's rare to make a sighting like this - it's certainly impressive-looking."

Young went on to say that the iceberg had probably split from a major Antarctic ice shelf approximately nine years ago. He predicts that if global warming continues more of these orphan icebergs could be expected to be seen.

"If the current trends in global warming were to continue I would anticipate seeing more icebergs and the large ice shelves breaking up," he added.

On the flip side of the coin, Professor Jonathan Bamber, from Bristol University, maintains that it is not uncommon for icebergs the size of Wales to break off from the Antarctic; and, this incident should not be attributed to global climate change.

Via Cause2 and Telegraph

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