Prediction of iceberg trajectories for the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans

Grant R. Bigg, Martin R. Wadley, David P. Stevens, John A. Johnson

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Icebergs are a well-known hazard for shipping. Their study also provides information about diverse geophysical processes, as varied as ocean circulation, air-sea fluxes, calving rates of glaciers or the mass balance of ice sheets. As a first step to obtaining this information from iceberg data we have developed a model of iceberg drift driven by ocean and atmospheric forcing derived from general circulation models. We have applied the drift model to a distribution of typical icebergs released from the main tidewater glaciers of the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. We demonstrate that the main driving force of iceberg motion is rooted in the unsteady component of oceanic advection. From simulated trajectories we are able to reproduce the observed southwards limit of iceberg penetration and demonstrate sometimes surprising geographical links between iceberg origin and ultimate melting zones. Copyright 1996 by the American Geophysical Union.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3587-3590
Number of pages4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1996

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