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Whereabouts of Giant Iceberg


Whereabouts of Giant Iceberg

Giant iceberg drifts around Antarctica.
Every day, AMSR-E observes a drifting giant iceberg, which broke off from the Ross Ice Shelf in May of last year (2002). The iceberg is 17 by 109 nautical miles, roughly the size of Long Island. The image from AMSR-E in Figure 1 shows Antarctica on May 31, 2003. During the warm summer in Japan, Antarctica, which is in the southern hemisphere, enters the season of polar night when the sun does not rise. At Showa Station (69S 36.6E), which is the base of the Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition, the Sun cannot be seen from June 1 to July 14, or about one and a half months. The iceberg was designated C-19 and calved off the Ross Ice Shelf in May 2002. The Ross Ice Shelf is located on the other side of Showa Station and is the largest in Antarctica.
The area around the South Pole is black in Figure 1 because AMSR-E cannot acquire data there.

Fig.1 AMSR-E Image of Antarctica dated 31 May 2003
Lager Image

The area surrounded by the blue line in Figure 1 is magnified in Figures 2 and 3. These show the position of the iceberg from July, 2002 when AMSR-E began regular observation to the present. It is possible to confirm that it begins to flow off the Ross Ice Shelf in early August 2002 and that it is flowing after being half turned around from October to April 2003 and drifting north.

Fig.2 Fig.2

Fig.3 Fig.3

Movie of Daily image (about 20MByte)
AMSR-E is not significantly influenced by weather, and it is possible to make observations night and day. Moreover, AMSR-E was able to observe the iceberg because its ground resolution is higher than previous similar sensors. In recent years, the generation of icebergs has tended to increase due to global warming. In the future, observation by earth-observation satellites will become increasingly more important.

 Topics Archive:  2003 January
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