HC Deb 17 June 2002 vol 387 cc48-9W
Andrew Mackinlay

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on(a) the hazards to shipping, (b) the impact of global warming and (c) changes in sea levels in connection with the floating away of iceberg numbers (i) C19 and (ii) C10 from Antarctica. [58214]

Mr. Meacher

[holding answer 10 June 2002]: C19 broke away from the west Antarctic in the last few weeks and is currently drifting slowly north. C10 broke away about five years ago and is currently located at approximately 64 degrees south, 99 east.

There is an obvious risk to navigation, especially when we consider that a vessel undertaking a "great circle" sailing in the southern ocean will be drawn into high latitudes. However, the risk is minimised by knowledge of the location, size and movement of the icebergs from satellite remote sensing devices, the provision of Maritime Safety Information (MSI) services to ensure that mariners are aware of the danger and the contribution from modern navigation systems.

The breaking away of C10 and C19 will not have an impact on global warming. While the break-up of ice shelves is consistent with a warmer world, it is still not clear the degree to which global warming has contributed to the recent break-up of parts of the Antarctic ice shelf.

C10 and C19 will not cause sea levels to change as the ice was floating in the sea prior to breaking off the ice shelf.