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VIDEO/ Iceberg the size of Manhattan breaks off in the Arctic

December Wed 19, 2012

(Infophoto)  (Infophoto)

On December 12, 2012, a huge iceberg broke off from its parent glacier in the Arctic and was filmed for the documentary “Chasing Ice”. It was the largest iceberg break ever filmed.            

The word iceberg denotes a large piece of freshwater ice that is floating freely in open water. For an iceberg to form, it must calve, or break off from a glacier. The biggest icebergs recorded all broke off from the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica, and the largest one measured over 12,000 square miles in area.           

The calving of icebergs is often preceded by a large cracking sound and a rift formed where the iceberg is in the process of breaking. Then, with the entry of the ice into the water, wakes are caused which are extremely dangerous to boats within two miles of the breakage. Calving is caused by the stretching of the icebergs longitudinally, by the melting of the icebergs at the point where they meet the water, in addition to seismic or tidal causes. Sometimes these breakages can occur without warning.            

Icebergs are monitored all over the world by the U.S. National Ice Center. They assign each iceberg a numbers and letters that indicated where it can be found. The International Ice Patrol, instead, watches the icebergs to determine whether or not they are dangerous to ships, and then sends out warnings.           

The documentary “Chasing Ice” is in the process of filming the melting and breaking of the Arctic icebergs as a cause of global warming. They aim to gather “incontrovertible evidence of climate change”. Filmmaker James Balog has put together a survey of the Arctic over the past few years, putting together thousands of images to some the succession of events and the retreating of the icebergs. He has spent the past few years in bitter cold temperatures, sometimes risking his life for his film. After waiting for many weeks, they were able to catch this amazing calving on film. Balog has compared it to “Manhattan breaking apart in front of your eyes”, since the iceberg that broke was so large.                

See the video of the iceberg calving on the next page.



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