U.S. Water News Online
GROTON, Conn. -- While Atlantic Coast meteorologists are
now busy tracking tropical storm development as hurricane season
begins, a group of Groton-based oceanographers have just wrapped up
And by all accounts it was a busy one.
This spring and summer, the U.S. Coast Guard International Ice
Patrol tracked 877 icebergs wandering into the shipping lanes, as
well as two large ``ice islands,'' enough to classify it as a
``severe'' ice season, The Day of New London reported.
Some of the biggest icebergs seen in 30 years ventured as far
south as Philadelphia. The Ice Patrol, based at the Avery Point
campus of the University of Connecticut, counted more than 925
icebergs as potential hazards to shipping. One of the so-called ice
islands was as large as 30 football fields.
``The last couple of years have been very active,'' said Donald L.
Murphy, an Ice Patrol oceanographer. ``One of the things we're trying
to understand is why there is such great variability in the number of
icebergs that we track, but we don't have any answers yet.''
For the first time since the 1980s the Ice Patrol ``tagged'' an
ice island with a transponder dropped from its reconnaissance plane
and tracked it for 14 days. Murphy said the data will allow the
patrol to predict how icebergs will drift using computer models.
The ice season has officially ended as warming waters in the North
Atlantic have melted most of the icebergs drifting out of the
Labrador Sea before they can reach the shipping lanes.
Just a few icebergs were spotted during the first few weeks of the
season, which began in February. But by mid-March, the patrol began
spotting ``some of the largest icebergs seen in three decades made
their way into the North Atlantic shipping lanes,'' the Ice Patrol
said in its end-of-the-season assessment.
The Ice Patrol was established after the sinking of the Titanic in
April 1912. It is funded by 17 maritime nations and searches almost
500,000 square miles of ocean in the Grand Banks region to keep ships
safe. The 16 members of the Ice Patrol crew are based in Groton, but
they are flown by long-range surveillance aircraft out of Elizabeth
``The offshore oil and gas industry pays a lot of attention to the
icebergs,'' Murphy said.
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