A 54 square-mile iceberg that broke free of an Antarctic ice shelf ten years ago is headed straight for Australia, and similarly large icebergs have been sighted off the coast of New Zealand. Are we heading for ice disaster?
While the situation is quite weird - few icebergs this large have ever drifted so far from Antarctica - it will not end in an iceberg vs. landmass smackdown. As the huge sheet of ice drifts into warmer waters, it will break up and melt. In fact, scientists studying this phenomenon have seen other enormous icebergs, like the one pictured above, reach as far as New Zealand.
In this satellite photo, you can see where the enormous iceberg originated. According to CNN:
Named B17B, [the iceberg is] about 1,700 km (1,056 miles) off the coast of West Australia, according to the country's Antarctic Division.
"B17B is a very significant one in that it has drifted so far north while still largely intact," said Australian Antarctic Division glaciologist Neal Young, who spotted the slab using satellite images taken by NASA and the European Space Agency. "It's one of the biggest sighted at those latitudes."
Researchers aren't sure whether this iceberg migration is part of a natural cycle, or has been affected by recent climate change.
All I can say is that it sounds like the great setup for an action movie: Giant Landmass vs. Mega-Iceberg!
Satellite photo via AP/Australian Antarctic Division.