Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New collision looks imminent for B-15A iceberg

18.05.2005


The mammoth B-15A iceberg appears poised to strike another floating Antarctic ice feature, a month on from a passing blow that broke off the end of the Drygalski ice tongue. As this Envisat image reveals, this time its target is the ice tongue of the Aviator Glacier.


B-15A adjacent to Aviator, 16 May



First discovered in 1955, and named to mark the work done by airmen to open up the Antarctic continent, the Aviator Glacier is a major valley glacier descending from the plateau of Victoria Land along the west side of the Mountaineer Range. It enters the sea at Lady Newnes Bay, where it forms a floating ice tongue that extends into the water for about 25 kilometres.

This Envisat Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) image was acquired on 16 May 2005 in Wide Swath Mode (WSM), providing spatial resolution of 150 metres across a 400-km swath. ASAR can pierce through clouds and local darkness and is capable of differentiating between different types of ice.


The sensor has been following the movements of B-15A since the beginning of the year, gathering the highest frequency weather-independent dataset of this part of the Ross Sea.

Measuring around 115 kilometres in length with an area exceeding 2500 square kilometres, the B-15A iceberg is the world’s largest free-floating object. It is the largest remaining section of the even larger B-15 iceberg that calved from the Ross Ice Shelf in March 2000 before breaking up into smaller sections.

Since then its B-15A section has drifted into McMurdo Sound, where its presence blocked ocean currents and led to a build-up of sea ice that decimated local penguin colonies, deprived of open waters for feeding. During the spring of this year prevailing currents took B-15A slowly past the Drygalski ice tongue. A full-fledged collision failed to take place, but a glancing blow broke the end off Drygalski in mid-April.

The stretch of Victoria Land coast parallel to B-15A’s current position is unusually rich in wildlife, noted for colonies of Adelie penguins as well as Weddell seals and Skuas. If B-15A were to remain in its current position for any prolonged length of time, the danger is that the iceberg could pin sea-ice behind it, blocking the easy access to open water that local animal inhabitants currently enjoy.

Twin-mode Antarctic observations

Envisat’s ASAR instrument monitors Antarctica in two different modes: Global Monitoring Mode (GMM) provides 400-kilometre swath one-kilometre resolution images, enabling rapid mosaicking of the whole of Antarctica to monitor changes in sea ice extent, ice shelves and iceberg movement.

Wide Swath Mode (WSM) possesses the same swath but with 150-metre resolution for a detailed view of areas of particular interest.

ASAR GMM images are routinely provided to a variety of users including the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Ice Centre, responsible for tracking icebergs worldwide.

ASAR imagery is also being used operationally to track icebergs in the Arctic by the Northern View and ICEMON consortia, which provide ice monitoring services as part of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) initiative, jointly backed by ESA and the European Union.

This year also sees the launch of CryoSat, a dedicated ice-watching mission designed to precisely map changes in the thickness of polar ice sheets and floating sea ice.

CryoSat, in connection with regular Envisat ASAR GMM mosaics and SAR interferometry – a technique used to combine radar images to measure tiny centimetre-scale shifts between acquisitions - should answer the question of whether the kind of ice-shelf calving that gave rise to B-15 and its descendants are a consequence of ice sheet dynamics or other factors.

Together they will provide insight into whether such iceberg calving occurrences are becoming more common, as well as improving our understanding of the relationship between the Earth’s ice cover and the global climate.

Mariangela D’Acunto | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/esaEO/SEM0V56TI8E_planet_0.html

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nagoya physicists resolve long-standing mystery of structure-less transition

21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

Chronic stress induces fatal organ dysfunctions via a new neural circuit

21.08.2017 | Health and Medicine

Scientists from the MSU studied new liquid-crystalline photochrom

21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>