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The calving and drift of iceberg B-9 in the Ross Sea, Antarctica

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 May 2004

Harry (J.R.) Keys
Science and Research Division, Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 10–420, Wellington, New Zealand Dept of Conservation, Private Bag, Turangi, New Zealand
S.S. Jacobs
Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, NY 10964, USA
Don Barnett
Navy/NOAA Joint Ice Center, 4301 Suitland Road, Washington, DC 20395–5180, USA


Major rifts is the Ross Ice Shelf controlled the October 1987 calving of the 154 × 35 km “B-9” iceberg, one of the longest on record. The 2000 km, 22 month drift of this iceberg and the quite different tracks of smaller bergs that calved with it have extended our understanding of the ocean circulation in the Ross Sea. B-9 initially moved north-west for seven months until deflected southward by a subsurface current which caused it to collide with the ice shelf in August 1988. It then completed a 100 km-radius gyre on the east-central shelf before resuming its north-westerly drift. Based upon weekly locations, derived from NOAA-10 and DMSP satellite and more frequent ARGOS data buoy positions, B-9 moved at an average speed of 2.4 km day−1 over the continental shelf. It was not grounded there at any time, but cast a large shadow of open water or reduced ice thickness during the austral winters. B-9 was captured by the continental slope current in May 1989, and attained a maximum velocity of 13 km day−1 before breaking into three pieces north of Cape Adare in early August 1989.

Papers—Earth Science and Glaciology
© Antarctic Science Ltd 1990

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