The University of Chicago News Office
Oct. 2, 2006 Press Contact: Steve Koppes
(773) 702-8366

Alaskan storm cracks giant iceberg to pieces in faraway Antarctica: Photos

A severe storm that occurred in the Gulf of Alaska in October 2005 generated an ocean swell that six days later broke apart a giant iceberg floating near the coast of Antarctica, more than 8,300 miles away. A team of scientists led by Professors Douglas MacAyeal at the University of Chicago and Emile Okal at Northwestern University present evidence connecting the two events in the October issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

“We are reporting on a unique kind of seismological signal picked up by seismometers we deployed on the iceberg, which is generated by sea swell when it rocks the iceberg,” said Okal, professor in geological sciences at Northwestern.

Oceanographers have known since the early 1960s that ocean swells can travel half way around the world. But the new study, funded by the National Science Foundation, raises the possibility that an increase in storms driven by climate change could affect far-flung parts of the globe. READ MORE

Click to enlarge the photos below.

  Sketchmaps of iceberg B15A before and after it broke apart in October 2005 near Cape Adare and the Possession Islands, Antarctica. The iceberg measures 100 kilometers by 30 kilometers (62 miles by 18.6 miles). Insets show satellite radar images. Sketchmaps courtesy of Douglas MacAyeal; radar image credits: European Space Agency/Envisat.


[Back to top]


  Douglas MacAyeal, Professor in Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago, deploying a seismometer on icebert C16 in Antarctica. MacAyeal stands in a snow vault that, once covered with plywood and snow blocks, protects one of his seismometers from the wind. Photo courtesy of Douglas MacAyeal.


[Back to top]


  A field crew deploys solar panels that provide power for a seismometer on iceberg C16 in Antarctica. Mount Erebus looms in the background. Photo courtesy of Douglas MacAyeal.


[Back to top]


  Landsat satellite image of iceberg B15 in January 2001. The iceberg covered about 11,000 square miles, approximately twice the size of Delaware. Robert Bindschaldler, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.


[Back to top]


  Andy Bliss, a 2001 University of Chicago alumnus, views a desolate seascape from the edge of iceberg C16 in Antarctica. Bliss is now completing his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley. Photo courtesy of Andy Bliss.


[Back to top]


  Research team photo in Antarctica. On his side is Jonathan Thom, associate researcher at the Space Science and Engineering Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison. From the University of Chicago are graduate students Kelly Brunt and Mac Cathles (top); Douglas MacAyeal, Professor in Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago (at right, in black); Emily O’Donnell, graduate student in Geophysical Sciences (in red); and Olga Sergienko, who received her Ph.D. in geophysical sciences at the University in December 2005.


[Back to top]


  A Web camera set up in Antarctica that allows researchers to remotely monitor ice movements. This camera sends daily images of the iceberg detachment rift seen in the background to U.S. institutions via satellite telephone. The goal of the camera is to catch an iceberg in the act of breaking away from the Ross Ice Shelf. Image courtesy of Kelly Brunt, University of Chicago.


[Back to top]
Last modified at 08:22 AM CST on Tuesday, October 03, 2006.

University of Chicago News Office
5801 South Ellis Avenue - Room 200
Chicago, Illinois 60637-1473
(773) 702-8360
Fax: (773) 702-8324
Contact Us