November 23, 2009

Hundreds Of Icebergs Sailing Towards New Zealand

Over one hundred Antarctic icebergs are moving towards New Zealand in an extraordinary happening that has raised a shipping warning, officials announced Monday.

An Australian Antarctic Division glaciologist stated that the bergs, pinpointed by satellites, have floated past the Auckland Islands, and are 280 miles northeast of the Island.

Scientist Neal Young noted that the icebergs, including some that are 650 feet in width, were in a large group, which implies that there could be more.

The chunks of ice split off of a gigantic ice floe which separated from the Antarctic.

"All of these have come from a larger one that was probably 11.6 square miles in size when it left Antarctica," Young said the AFP.

"It's done a long circuit around Antarctica and now the bigger parts of it are breaking up and producing smaller ones."

He noted that large quantities of icebergs had not been seen anywhere near New Zealand since 2006, and even that was the first kind of sighting since 1931.

"They're following the same tracks now up towards New Zealand. Whether they make it up to the South Island or not is difficult to tell," Young added.

New Zealand has released coastal navigation notices for the region in the Southern Ocean.

"It's really just a general warning for shipping in that area to be on the alert for icebergs," Maritime New Zealand spokesman Ross Henderson announced.

Young had said previously to the AFP he anticipated more icebergs in the region if global warming continued to grow.

"If the current trends in global warming were to continue I would anticipate seeing more icebergs and the large ice shelves breaking up," he said.

Image Courtesy Susan Ferguson, Australian Antarctic Division


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