Iceberg nearly as large as Chesapeake Bay breaks off Antarctica

Wednesday, May 15th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A new iceberg nearly as large as Chesapeake Bay has broken away from Antarctica.

The National Ice Center reported Wednesday that the berg, named C-19, had split off and was afloat next to Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf.

C-19 measures 124 miles long and 19.5 miles wide, or 2,428 square miles. Chesapeake Bay is 2,747 square miles.

The iceberg is named C-19 because it's the 19th new berg reported in that section of Antarctica since records were first kept in 1976.

The report of C-19 comes less than a week after C-18 broke free in the same general area. C-18 was 47 miles long and 4.6 miles across.

In March, another giant berg broke free in an adjacent area. Named B-22, it measured 2,120 square miles, bigger than the state of Delaware.

Also in March, a large floating ice shelf in Antarctica collapsed. The 1,250-square-mile section of the Larsen Ice Shelf splintered into a plume of drifting icebergs during a five-week period that ended March 7.

New measurements, though, indicate the ice in parts of Antarctica is thickening, reversing earlier estimates that the sheet was melting.

Scientists reported in January that new flow measurements for the Ross ice streams indicate some of their movement has slowed or halted, allowing the ice to thicken.

Researchers don't know if the thickening is merely part of some short-term fluctuation or represents a reversal of the ice's long retreat.

That report, in the journal Science, came less than a week after a paper in Nature reported that Antarctica's harsh desert valleys _ long considered a bellwether for global climate change _ have grown noticeably cooler since the mid-1980s.

The National Ice Center, based in Suitland, Md., provides worldwide ice analyses and tracking to assist the military and private shippers.

It is a joint operation of the Navy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Coast Guard.