Sometime in the last weeks of March 2000, something incredible happened in Antarctica. Scientists observed a large chunk of the Ross Ice Shelf called Iceberg B-15 calved. Scientists noted that the calving of the iceberg occurred along preexisting cracks in the Ross Ice Shelf.
According to scientists’ measurement, the iceberg was around 295 kilometers long and 37 kilometers wide with a whopping 11,000 square kilometers surface area. In short, Iceberg B-15 is the largest recorded iceberg to date. It is even larger than Jamaica.
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Scientists point out that calving of icebergs, even the size of Iceberg-B15, is a natural occurrence. It is a natural consequence of the development of ice shelves. According to them, calving is part of a long-term natural cycle that happens every fifty to one hundred years.
Iceberg B-15 broke up into several pieces in 2000, 2002, and 2003. The largest was named B-15A. The iceberg B-15A had a surface area of 6,400 square kilometers. B-15A continued to drift along the open sea.
While drifting, B-15A broke to smaller pieces, but the main iceberg was still called B-15A. Several of B-15A’s large pieces were spotted 60 km of the coast of Timaru, New Zealand.
Iceberg B-15A became a historic iceberg. It was the first-ever iceberg that was monitored through weather and Global Positioning System instruments. Researchers from University of Chicago and University of Wisconsin installed the monitoring systems on January 29, 2001. With the weather and Global Positioning System installed, scientists were able to find out how giant icebergs such as B-15A make their way from the waters of Antarctica unto the open seas.
Researchers have also gathered precious data that have led to new insights and understanding on how giant icebergs affect the ecology of Antarctica. Scientists are still discovering new things through the data that they collected from Iceberg B-15A.