Thursday, January 13, 2005

Ice-mageddon | Slow Moving Demo

What do you get when you have a massive iceberg (about the size of, oh, Long Island, NY) moving on a collision course with a floating glacier near the McMurdo Research Station in Antarctica?

Iceberg image from

Apparently nothing too deadly news-worthy. That is, at least, according to Monkeyfilter where a member has reported that the world media has largely ignored this event, even in the midst of "dramatic evacuation procedures of all personel assisted by the Russians" Here is the story: A massive 3,000-square-kilometer/1,200-square-mile iceberg is about to impact with a glacial peninsula of ice in McMurdo sound known as the Drygalski Ice Tongue. NASA scientists believe the collision will occur before or on January 15, but even they are unsure as to what will really happen.
"It's a clash of the titans, a radical and uncommon event," says Robert Bindshadler, a researcher at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, and if the two giant slabs of ice collide, we could see one of the best demolition derbies on the planet. "Even a 'tap' from a giant can be powerful. It will certainly be a blow far larger than anything else the ice tongue has ever experienced," says Bindshadler.When the iceberg and the ice tongue collide, the impact will likely "dent their bumpers," says Bindshadler. The edges could crumple and ice could pile or drift into the Ross Sea. But if the B-15A iceberg picks up enough speed before the two collide, the results could be more spectacular. The Drygalski Ice Tongue could break off.
Now, I've only found a few news stories about this thing, but nothing to suggest a large evacuation. Among the pieces I have found:
  • New Zealand's STUFF reports that "no lives were expected to be in danger. Staff at Scott Base and McMurdo Station 250km away would monitor the collision. So would scientists in the United States via a webcam on the iceberg, while Nasa scientists hoped to observe the action via a satellite."
  • Tech News World has a quick blurb.
  • The BBC quotes from the same NASA sources, also mentioning that "US space agency scientists are studying the iceberg's progress by monitoring satellite images of the region. The Modis instrument on Nasa's Aqua and Terra satellites captured 13 images of the shifting B-15A iceberg between 9 November and 2 January 2005. "
  • Japan Today focuses on the penquins who are adversely affected by the iceberg's course, reporting that "thousands of penguin chicks threatened with starvation because their mothers cannot bring them food."
  • And back in the middle of December, EurekAlert reported that the "Iceberg poses no threat to Antarctic personnel." (Yep, that iceberg is moving slowly enough that statements made weeks ago are still accurate.)

But no evac info. Still, the sparse chatter on a story regarding a terrestrial collision of this magnitude is ... puzzling.

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