Studying Antarctic icebergs can provide insight into climatic changes of the Earth's frozen continent. Antarctic icebergs are regularly formed by the separations of massive sections of ice from ice shelves and glaciers.

The National Ice Center (NIC) is playing a major role in sea ice analysis and forecasts. As a part of its mission the NIC is using a variety of satellite sensors to track many large Antarctic icebergs. The NIC reports iceberg positions every 15-20 days. However, there are limitations in the NIC's iceberg tracking techniques. The areas covered by the images used by the NIC are limited to specific areas of the Antarctic continent, due in part to the resources required to produce and process these high resolution images.

Based on the NIC data base, the number of large Antarctic icebergs seems to be increasing in recent years. This leads to a concern of a possible climatic trend. However, our analysis of historic scatterometer and radiometer data suggests this increase is largely due to improved resources and technological advancements for iceberg tracking. Additionally sever major iceberg calving events have taken place in recent years. These calving events may represent natural variability.

To evaluate the NIC's tracking and to monitor recent iceberg activity, we used current and historic scatterometer and radiometer data to track Antarctic icebergs spanning nearly 25 years. Five data sets from various instruments were used in the study. Icebergs were tracked independently with each data set for time periods between1976 to 2001. Each image provides coverage of the entire Antarctic continent allowing frequent positions to be reported for each iceberg. The results show that the number of large icebergs over the last 20-25 years has remained fairly constant with the exception of an increase in icebergs from 1994 to 2001 due to several major



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Electrical and Computer Engineering



Date Submitted


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Iceberg, Antarctica, National Ice Center, scatterometers, climate change