Huge icebergs encircle Macquarie Island

By Guido Trombetta on 10:59 AM ,

© Australian Antarctic Division 2008/Tessa Bickford

Five hundred meters long and fifty meters tall: It's the iceberg that is navigating in the sea between Australia and the Antarctic Circle, off Macquarie Island, an area where the "ice giants" are seen very rarely. It's twice the size of the "Bird's nest" Beijing Olympics stadium. The first to spot him were the explorers of the Australian Antarctic Division. "I had never seen anything like this: we looked at the horizon and we saw this enormous frozen island. It was a great moment."
According to the glaciologist Neal Young the giant detached from the area of Ross Ice Shelf, the largest ice shelf of Antarctica (487mila square km), 8 or 9 years ago . "It's the first time I see an iceberg off Macquarie Island for many, many years - said Young - Now it may go to New Zealand or may rotate around itself. "
Currently it's moving north slowly and does not represent a hazard to navigation, but this could happen if it were to break into several pieces in the coming months or years. "Facts like these will be increasingly common if climate change continues to proceed with the current speed," warns glaciologist. Macquarie Island is a UNESCO protected site and home to a huge colony of King penguins crested golden (or Eudipte of New Zealand), along with King penguins and elephant seals.

© Australian Antarctic Division 2008/Murray Potter

UPDATE: A few days later many other icebergs have been spotted around Macquarie Island.

A large mass of icebergs is drifting north from Antarctica, past the sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island.
In the past 24 hours at least four icebergs have been spotted off the east and west coasts of the island, ranging in size from 50 metres up to an estimated two kilometres in length. This follows a recent sighting of a 500 metre long iceberg late last week. Australian Antarctic Division glaciologist, Neal Young, said it looks like there are at least 50 icebergs in the region around the island."From satellite images we can see there is a whole group of icebergs, roughly spread over an area of 1,000 kilometres by 700 kilometres, moving with the ocean current away from Antarctica," Dr Young said.

© Australian Antarctic Division 2008/Brett Quinton

© Australian Antarctic Division 2008/Susan Ferguson

© Australian Antarctic Division 2008/Brett Quinton

© Australian Antarctic Division 2008/
Brett Quinton

© Australian Antarctic Division 2008/
Brett Quinton

Further info at the Australian Antaric Division website


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