Is the number of Antarctic icebergs really increasing?


  • David G. Long,

  • Jarom Ballantyn,

  • Cheryl Bertoia


Icebergs released from the ice shelves and glaciers of Antarctica account for the majority of the continent's freshwater flux into the ocean. It is estimated that an average of nearly 2000 km3 [Jacobs et al., 1992] of ice are released from continental ice shelves and glaciers each year. Much of this ice is released in the form of very large icebergs, some of which are as large as 295 km×37 km.

A recent article by Bindschadler and Rignot [2001] notes that the number of icebergs around Antarctica appears to be on the rise, potentially heralding a climate trend. Examination of the National Ice Center (NIC) Antarctic iceberg data base tends to support the observation of an increase in the number of icebergs. Further driving the concern is the size of recently calves icebergs such as the largest ever observed, B15 measuring 295 km×37 km, which calved from the Ross Ice Shelf in March 2000.