Academics track Manhattan-sized iceberg to prevent maritime hazard
An iceberg the size of Manhattan which could threaten shipping lanes is being tracked by a team led by the University of Sheffield in a bid to stop it becoming a maritime hazard.
Professor Grant Bigg, from the University’s Department of Geography, is heading the project to monitor the movement and melting of the iceberg which has recently broken off a glacier in Antarctica and predict its likely path and any environmental impact
Professor Bigg said: “Its current movement does not raise environmental issues, however a previous giant iceberg from this location eventually entered the South Atlantic and if this happens it could potentially pose a hazard to ships.
“If the iceberg stays around the Antarctic coast, it will melt slowly and will eventually add a lot of freshwater that stays in the coastal current, altering the density and affecting the speed of the current. Similarly, if it moves north it will melt faster but could alter the overturning rates of the current as it may create a cap of freshwater above the denser seawater.”
Professor Bigg said the iceberg wasn’t large enough to have a big impact, but could have an effect. “If these events become more common, there will be a build-up of freshwater which could have lasting effects,” he added.
The six month project, which has been funded by the National Environment Research Council (NERC), is being co-led by Dr Robert Marsh, from the University of Southampton.
Their work is expected to not only provide a timely warning of any consequences of the iceberg’s release to the shipping industry but also test a technique which could in the future be used by ice hazard warning services.
The University of Sheffield
With nearly 25,000 of the brightest students from 117 countries coming to learn alongside 1,209 of the world’s best academics, it is clear why the University of Sheffield is one of the UK’s leading universities. Staff and students at Sheffield are committed to helping discover and understand the causes of things - and propose solutions that have the power to transform the world we live in.
A member of the Russell Group, the University of Sheffield has a reputation for world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines. The University of Sheffield has been named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards 2011 for its exceptional performance in research, teaching, access and business performance. In addition, the University has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes (1998, 2000, 2002, 2007), recognising the outstanding contribution by universities and colleges to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.
One of the markers of a leading university is the quality of its alumni and Sheffield boasts five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students. Its alumni have gone on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.
Research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, Boots, AstraZeneca, GSK, Siemens, Yorkshire Water, and many more household names, as well as UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.
The University has well-established partnerships with a number of universities and major corporations, both in the UK and abroad. The White Rose University Consortium (White Rose) is a strategic partnership between 3 of the UK's leading research universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York. Since its creation in 1997 White Rose has secured more than £100M into the Universities.
For further information please contact:
Media Relations Officer
The University of Sheffield
0114 222 9851