Pine Island Glacier Calves a New Iceberg (B-49)

By LT Bryan R. Brasher, NOAA
U.S. National Ice Center
February 10, 2020

February 10th, 2020, Suitland, MD — On February 10th 2020, the National Ice Center (USNIC) named a new iceberg that meets the criteria for tracking by the USNIC. This iceberg from Pine Island Glacier is part of a larger calving event that mostly broke apart into smaller pieces. Pine Island Glacier is just east of Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica. B-49 is located at 75°3' South, 101°19' West and measures 10 nautical miles on its longest axis and 5 nautical miles on its widest axis with an area of 34 square nautical miles. B-49 was spotted by Jan Lieser of Australian Bureau of Meteorology and confirmed by analyst Chris Readinger in the Sentinel-1B image shown below. This calving is just the latest in a series of calving events from Pine Island Glacier since 2000 that are increasing in frequency.

Iceberg names are derived from the Antarctic quadrant in which they were originally sighted. The quadrants are divided counter-clockwise in the following manner:

A = 0-90W (Bellingshausen/Weddell Sea)
B = 90W-180 (Amundsen/Eastern Ross Sea)
C = 180-90E (Western Ross Sea/Wilkesland)
D = 90E-0 (Amery/Eastern Weddell Sea)

When first sighted, an iceberg’s point of origin is documented by the USNIC. The letter of the quadrant, along with a sequential number, is assigned to the iceberg. For example, C-19 is sequentially the 19th iceberg tracked by the USNIC in Antarctica between 180-90E (Quadrant C). Icebergs with letter suffixes have calved from already named icebergs, where the letters are added in sequential order. For example, C-19D, is the 4th iceberg to calve off the original C-19 iceberg.

The National Ice Center is a tri-agency operational center represented by the United States Navy (Department of Defense), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Department of Commerce), and the United States Coast Guard (Department of Homeland Security). The National Ice Center mission is to provide the highest quality strategic and tactical ice services tailored to meet the operational requirements of U.S. national interests and to provide specialized meteorological and oceanographic services to United States government agencies.

Satellite image of Iceberg B-49
Figure 1: SENTINEL-1B image of B-49, February 10, 2020 (Sentinel-1 Imagery courtesy European Space Agency)

For more information, please contact:
National Ice Center
Naval Ice Center
Command Duty Officer
Voice: (301) 943-6977
Twitter: @usnatice
Facebook: @usnatice

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