Since 1978, the U.S. National Ice Center (USNIC) has tracked icebergs in the Southern Hemisphere utilizing the criteria of 10 nm on the longest axis. In light of improved satellite imagery availability and resolution, the USNIC is expanding its criteria to include icebergs of twenty (20) square nautical miles or greater.
Ice Analysts use a combination of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), visible, and infrared remotely sensed imagery in Antarctica to locate and track icebergs. USNIC has been compiling the latitude, longitude, and general size of icebergs seen during the routine monitoring of sea ice conditions around the Antarctic continent since 1978 and sharing them with the public.
The naming convention for Antarctic icebergs 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/Wilkesland Sea)
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.
Newly named ice bergs warrant a press release from the USNIC and can be found in our News section. All named icebergs are tracked and documented weekly and all information are located on our Antarcic Icebergs page.