There Are Iceberg Cowboys

October 13, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Iceberg hunting is serious work wrote the Economist:

  • The number of icebergs has doubled this year – posing a threat to man’s attempts to rule the oceans.
  • Satellites are the first line of defense. They look for icebergs and feed images through an algorithm that tries to separate whales and waves from icebergs.
  • Planes are then dispatched to get a closer look at the floating mega-blocks.
  • If they look like they may pose a threat, ships with lasers and sonar could be deployed to get finer readings of projected trajectories.
  • That’s where the cowboys come in. If the icebergs are small then a water cannon is enough to change the trajectory or melt them entirely.
  • But for the large ones ships will literally get a polypropylene rope, circle it around the iceberg, and slowly pull the iceberg out of harm’s way.
  • It’s sobering work – especially since it’s done in a part of the Atlantic close to where the Titanic went down.
  • But the sophisticated iceberg defense mechanism isn’t there to protect ships. It’s to look after floating oil platforms – a collision could lead to a catastrophic oil spill.
  • The iceberg hunters are only going to get busier. Oil companies are interested in more drilling opportunities around the area known as “Iceberg Alley”.

Read more on The Economist.