Monday, April 11, 2016

New Zealand researchers: Icebergs put Antarctic monitoring program at risk

Two huge icebergs are running dangerously close to key climate research equipment floating in the Antarctic Sea, according to leading New Zealand researchers.

There are fears the massive walls of ice, which are 100 metres deep and between five and 15 kilometres long, could destroy a floating research mooring. It's worth between $200,000 and $250,000 and cost up to $1 million to install.

NIWA oceanographer Dr Mike Williams says the icebergs could catch the top of the mooring and drag or break the equipment.

The mooring is 620 metres tall and floats vertically beneath the surface, picking up information on current, temperature and salinity as part of a study on climate change and ice shelves.

It was deployed in Terra Nova Bay in December as part of a joint New Zealand and Korean project.

"We won't know until we go back next summer whether it is still there. We could lose a whole year of data. If that happens it will leave a gap in our research...

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