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Aerial view of ice.
Photo Credit: U.S. National Ice Center
Descendants of the might B-15 iceberg that calved off the Ross Ice Shelf in 2000 continue to break apart. B-15T recently spawned three more icebergs after it was clipped by another iceberg passing by in the Amery Sea.

Where are they now?

Iceberg descendant of famous B-15 continues to break apart more than 14 years later

One of the world’s biggest break-up stories isn’t in Hollywood. It’s taking place around Antarctica – and it’s been going on for more than 14 years.

An iceberg that calved in March 2000 from the Ross Ice Shelf is continuing its slow disintegration in the Amery Sea, nearly halfway around the continent from where it started.

The National Ice Center named three new icebergs after a previous iceberg, B-15T, broke into four pieces. B15T still remains, now joined by B-15Z, B-15AA and B-15AB. B-15T was the largest vestige from the biggest calving event ever recorded.

Iceberg B-15, with a surface area of 11,000 square kilometers, was nearly the size of the state of Connecticut when it broke away from the Ross Ice Shelf. It spawned a number of smaller icebergs as it began to break apart.

Some of the resulting icebergs were so large that they choked the channel to McMurdo Sound, which leads to McMurdo Station, the largest of three research facilities in the U.S. Antarctic Program, which is managed by the National Science Foundation.

The iceberg blockade trapped the sea ice into McMurdo Sound for a number of years, complicating the re-supply of the station via the sea. It also caused ecological challenges for top predators like penguins and seals because of the changes in the extent and thickness of sea ice.

Several days after being hit by another drifting iceberg while grounded, B-15T broke apart into four icebergs, according to a story in Marine Technology News. The new icebergs are the 26th, 27th and 28th tracked icebergs originating from B-15, Marine Technology News reported. B15T is still reportedly the largest of the eight remaining icebergs still being tracked from B15.

[See related article — Bergy bits: Remnants of mighty iceberg B-15 still floating around 13 years later.]

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Curator: Michael Lucibella, Antarctic Support Contract | NSF Official: Peter West, Office of Polar Programs