World's Biggest Iceberg Begins Moving after Blocking Food Supplies for
Antarctic Stations, Penguins
The world's biggest iceberg has begun moving again, nearly three months
after it ran aground, threatening penguin breeding colonies and blocking
ships supplying food and fuel to Antarctic research stations.
The giant iceberg, known as B15A, is now moving slowly out of McMurdo
Sound, where it had blocked sea access, said Lou Sanson, chief executive
of the government scientific agency Antarctica New Zealand.
The U.S. McMurdo Station and New Zealand's Scott Base are located on the
sound, and Italy's Terra Nova base is nearby. The McMurdo station has a
staff of about 1,000 during the summer and about 100 remain for the harsh
polar winter. Scott Base has about 100 staff during the summer and only
about 12 in the winter.
The 160-kilometer (100-mile) -long iceberg, which contains enough water
to supply the River Nile for 80 years, had blocked wind and water
currents in the sound, causing a buildup of ice which impeded ships
needed to supply food and fuel to the three research stations.
The ice blockage also threatened penguin breeding colonies, with tens of
thousands of Adele penguin chicks facing starvation as parent birds were
forced to trudge up to 180 kilometers (110 miles) to open sea to gather
food. Scientists are still trying to confirm how many of the chicks
starved over the summer.
Before B15A come to a halt in January, scientists had feared it would
slam into a 70-kilometer (40-mile) -long glacier near the McMurdo
station. Sanson said the iceberg is now nearing the glacier, known as the
Drygalski Ice Tongue, at a speed of about one kilometer (5/8 mile) a day,
but a direct hit seemed unlikely.
Source: Associated Press, 4 April 2005