A massive iceberg has drifted away from its home in Antarctica and is now posing a threat to southern shipping lanes, reports Newser. NASA has been tracking the massive chunk of ice for five months. The 'berg is 20 miles long, 12 miles wide, and up to a third of a mile deep. Observers say it could stay intact for a year before melting or breaking up.
"It has been surprising how there have been periods of almost no motion, interspersed with rapid flow," said one expert of the iceberg that's been given the name very technical name of "B31" (apparently icebergs don't get the hurricane-style nomenclature treatment).
Below: A satellite shot of B31 as it breaks away from Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica.
Tracking B31 will grow increasingly difficult as winter in the southern hemisphere takes hold. Container ships are wise to to avoid the city-sized obstruction that puts the Titanic's iceberg to shame .
"The iceberg is now well out of Pine Island Bay and will soon join the more general flow in the Southern Ocean, which could be east or west in this region," said Grant Biggs of the UK's University of Sheffield. A glaciologist added that "iceberg calving is a very normal process," but that the activity that spawned B31 was unique enough to "warrant monitoring."
Below is a time-lapse video from NASA's Earth Observatory documenting B31's gradual breaking away from Antarctica over a matter of years: