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Iceberg the size of the Isle of Man breaks free

25th November, 2013

Teams using satellite surveying equipment are warning that a giant iceberg that broke off from an Antarctic glacier in the summer could threaten international shipping lanes.

UK and US teams are monitoring the progress of the iceberg, which at 270 square miles in size is bigger than the Isle of Man. It broke away from Pine Island Glacier in July and the sheets of ice that initially kept it in place have now also broken, meaning the iceberg is moving into open water. If it goes in one direction, it will be heading towards international shipping routes, Prof Grant Bigg from the University of Sheffield told the BBC.

He 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."

The UK researchers have been awarded a £50,000 grant to keep tabs on the iceberg's movements, using information from a German satellite and Met Office software, which aims to predict its path and the speed at which it is likely to melt.

NASA has also been monitoring the iceberg for two years, using aircraft-mounted survey equipment.

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