This is a MODIS image from 2004, but it's too good not to post here.
I'm giving a talk tonight for the South Georgia Association called Giant Icebergs and South Georgia, so I'm wandering through a lot of these images at the moment.
South Georgia is a small island approximately 190 x 30 km within the Antarctic Circumpolar Current in the South Atlantic. It has a continental shelf that extends more than 50 km from the coast with average depth ~200 m, although there are deeper submarine canyons.
If you look really closely you can see it is a steam assisted ship.
I really like the colours in the sea ice in the foreground. It's hard not to see that when you are in the sea ice.
And let's not forget the ice bear in the foreground.
The caption on the Met page makes clear they were hunting this bear:
In 1861 the marine painter William Bradford made the first of his eight expeditions to the Arctic. This painting, based on photographs and sketches produced during his final trip, in 1869, shows the artist’s steamer, Panther, plying its way through the summer ice along the northern coast of Greenland. Panther was one of numerous vessels engaged in the search for the Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. According to Bradford’s journal, the ship’s crew had decided to hunt the polar bear seen in the foreground, “anxious to possess so fine a skin,” but the bear made a parting glance over its shoulder before heading for the water, managing to escape its pursuers.
But it is art for sure.
There is no way you could get an iceberg with this sort of freeboard close to the shore...
And I love the detail of a wrecked ship mast on the left.
There is a long history of romantic artists balancing the struggle of man against the icy wastes. My all time favourite in that category is Landseer's Man Proposes, God Disposes.
It was great to see Antarctica in the news and it was brilliant to see so many high quality interviews from so many colleagues to different outlets. I may try and collate some of these in the next few days.
The iceberg A66 is about 15 km at it's widest point in this image.
We can do a bit simple maths. Estimate the iceberg has a 200 m thickness and it is triangular in shape with a base of ~4 km.
the volume = 0.5 x 15 km x 4 km x 0.2 km = 6 km3.
So the relatively small A66 contains of 6000 gigtons of water. It's a lot. But it's not a lot.
Icebergs get their reference number depending on where they originate from. This one has an identifier "A" which means it came from the sector 0° to 90°W - that's the Bellingshausen and Weddell Sea region. You can track icebergs like this both visually - like in in the image above - or using something called a Scatterometer. A scatterometer can measure the winds over the ocean, and because the winds change over the ice one can track the icebergs. Prof David Long at Brigham Young University provides an excellent database of Antarctic iceberg data based on that idea (this is their research paper on how they do that).
If we look at the location data from the ASCAT sensor you can see that A66 is at the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula - but this data is only from this year. I will have to dig a little deeper. A job for later.
And some of these icebergs (although not A66) ground at South Georgia and ultimately can affect the ecosystem. Jon Amos wrote about some work I did at a San Francisco conference in 2010 about that - it's still available on the BBC website: Giant icebergs head to watery end at island graveyard.
Overall A66 is nothing special, this is not an unusual observation.