Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Iceberg’s end caught by Envisat

11.11.2003


ESA’s Envisat satellite was witness to the dramatic last days of what was once the world’s largest iceberg, as a violent Antarctic storm cracked a 160-km-long floe in two.


Another Envisat instrument known as MERIS acquired this optical image showing B-15A in the Ross Sea on 16 October 2003. The bottle-shaped iceberg can be seen centre. Below it is the Ross Ice Sheet from which the B-15 berg originated in March 2003. Left of B-15A is McMurdo Sound, location of US and New Zealand Antarctic bases.

Credits: ESA 2003


This ASAR image from 6 November 2003 clearly shows the split iceberg. The larger piece of B-15A retains the original name, while the other piece is called B-15J. Left of B-15A can be seen land - including the famous McMurdo Dry Valleys, and behind them the Transantarctic Mountains. Top of the picture is the floating Drygalski Ice Tongue, an example of ice draining from the David Glacier into the sea at a minimum rate of 150 metres a year.

Credits: ESA 2003



A series of Envisat Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) instrument images acquired between mid-September and October record how the bottle-shaped iceberg B-15A was split by the onslaught of powerful storms, waves and ocean currents as its own weight kept it fixed on the floor of Antarctica’s Ross Sea.

ASAR is especially useful for polar operations because its radar signal can pierce thick clouds and works through both day and night. Radar imagery charts surface roughness, so can easily differentiate between different ice types. Old ice – as on the surface of B-15A – is rougher than newly formed ice.


B-15A began its existence as B-15 in March 2000 - with an area of 11,655 sq km it was the world’s largest known iceberg. This Jamaica-sized floe was created when it broke away from the Ross Ice Shelf. The initial monster berg split into numerous pieces shortly afterwards, with the largest piece designated B-15A.

Like a wall of ice, B-15A remained a stubborn presence for the next two and a half years, diverting ocean currents. This caused increased ice around Ross Island that disrupted breeding patterns for the local penguin colony and required extra icebreaker activity to maintain shipping access to the US base at McMurdo Sound.

B-15A’s end came in sight on 7 October this year, as 120 kph winds buffeted the grounded iceberg during a storm. Two cracks ran into the heart of the iceberg from opposite ends until finally the entire berg gave way.

The larger of the two new pieces has inherited the name B-15A, and the smaller berg named B-15J. They remain largely locked in place, some 3,800 kilometres south of New Zealand. The bergs could persist there for many years – a GPS station has been placed on the 3,496 sq km B-15A to enable study of its future progress.

Despite events such as these there is so far no conclusive evidence as to whether polar ice is actually thinning. Next year will see the launch of ESA’s CryoSat mission, a dedicated ice-watching satellite designed to map precise changes in the thickness of polar ice-sheets and floating sea-ice.

CryoSat will be the first satellite to be launched as part of the Agency’s Living Planet Programme. This small research mission will carry a radar altimeter that is based on a heritage from existing instruments, but with several major enhancements to improve the measurement of icy surfaces.

By determining rates of ice-thickness change CryoSat will contribute to our understanding of the relationship between the Earth’s ice cover and global climate.

Frédéric Le Gall | ESA
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/export/esaSA/SEMCPWWLDMD_earth_0.html

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Predicting unpredictability: Information theory offers new way to read ice cores
07.12.2016 | Santa Fe Institute

nachricht Sea ice hit record lows in November
07.12.2016 | University of Colorado at Boulder

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling

07.12.2016 | Life Sciences

How to turn white fat brown

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>