End of the journey for world's largest iceberg - TechSource International - Leaders in Technology News

End of the journey for world's largest iceberg

Set to disappear after 18-year-long journey to equator.
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In March 2000, the largest iceberg ever recorded broke away from Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf. 

In March 2000, the largest iceberg ever recorded broke away from Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf. 

In March 2000, the largest iceberg ever recorded broke away from Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf. Now, in its 18th year drifting with the currents and being battered by the wind and sea, a piece of this original berg could be nearing the end of its voyage.

When iceberg B-15 first broke away (above), it measured about 160 nautical miles long and 20 nautical miles wide. That equates to an area of 3,200 square nautical miles, or about the size of Connecticut. 

B-15 has since fractured into numerous smaller bergs, and most have melted away.

B-15 has since fractured into numerous smaller bergs, and most have melted away.

B-15 has since fractured into numerous smaller bergs, and most have melted away. Just four pieces remain that meet the minimum size requirement—at least 20 square nautical miles—to be tracked by the National Ice Centre. When astronauts aboard the International Space Station shot the above photograph on May 22, 2018, B-15Z measured 10 nautical miles long and 5 nautical miles wide. That’s still well within the trackable size. 

The little square in the image above shows the location of the iceberg when astronauts captured the image above, on May 22, 2018.

The little square in the image above shows the location of the iceberg when astronauts captured the image above, on May 22, 2018.

But the iceberg may not be tracked much longer if it splinters into smaller pieces. A large fracture is visible along the centre of the berg, and smaller pieces are splintering off from the edges.

Melting and breakup would not be surprising, given the berg’s long journey and northerly location. A previous image showed B-15Z farther south in October 2017, after it had ridden the coastal countercurrent about three-quarters of the way around Antarctica bringing it to the Southern Ocean off the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Currents prevented the berg from continuing through the Drake Passage; instead, B-15Z cruised north into the southern Atlantic Ocean. 

Currents prevented the berg from continuing through the Drake Passage; instead, B-15Z cruised north into the southern Atlantic Ocean. 

Currents prevented the berg from continuing through the Drake Passage; instead, B-15Z cruised north into the southern Atlantic Ocean. When the May 2018 photograph was acquired, the berg was about 150 nautical miles northwest of the South Georgia islands. Icebergs that make it this far have been known to rapidly melt and end their life cycles here.