The animation highlights the movement in the area between September 2006 and October 2007. The Pine Island Glacier is visible stretching from the right of the image to the centre. The tongue of Pine Island is shown moving inland between September 2006 and March 2007. Between April and May 2007, the detached iceberg in front of Pine Island moves significantly. Also in May 2007, a crack in Pine Island becomes visible. By October, the new iceberg has completely broken away.
Several different processes can cause an iceberg to form, or ‘calve’, such as action from winds and waves, the ice shelf grows too large to support part of itself or a collision with an older iceberg. Since Pine Island Glacier was already floating before it calved, it will not cause any rise in the world sea level.
Iceberg calving like this occurs in Antarctica each year and is part of the natural lifecycle of the ice sheet. A 34-year long study of the glacier has shown that a large iceberg breaks off roughly every 5-10 years. The last event was in 2001.
Pine Island – the largest glacier in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) – is of great interest to scientists because it transports ice from the deep interior of the WAIS to the ocean and its flow rate has accelerated over the past 15 years.
The Pine Island Glacier is up to 2500 m thick with a bedrock over 1500 m below sea level and comprises 10 percent of the WAIS. According to a study by scientists at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and University College London (UCL) using ESA's ERS satellite data, a loss of 31-cubic km of ice from the WAIS’s interior from 1992 to 2001 was pinpointed to the Pine Island Glacier.
The thinning caused the glacier to retreat by over 5 km inland, supporting the argument that small changes at the coast of the Antarctic continent - such as the effects of global warning - may be transmitted rapidly inland leading to an acceleration of sea level rise.
Although these long-term regional changes are a cause for concern, the present iceberg calving event does not in itself signal a significant change in the WAIS. Over the last 15 years, the glacier front has advanced seawards at a rate of 3 km/year, so the calving of a 20 km-wide iceberg has simply shifted the glacier front back close to where it was after the last calving event in 2001.
The new iceberg was spotted by scientists at BAS while studying satellite images collected from Envisat using the Polar View monitoring programme. Since 2006, ESA has supported Polar View, a satellite remote-sensing programme funded through the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) Service Element (GSE) that focuses on the Arctic and the Antarctic.
GMES responds to Europe’s needs for geo-spatial information services by bringing together the capacity of Europe to collect and manage data and information on the environment and civil security, for the benefit of European citizens. As the main partner to the European Commission in GMES, ESA is the implementing agency for the GMES Space Component, which will fulfil the space-based observation requirements in response to European policy priorities.
The GSE has been preparing user organisations in Europe and worldwide for GMES by enabling them to receive and evaluate information services derived from existing Earth Observation (EO) satellites since 2002.
ASAR acquired these images working in Wide Swath Mode (WSM), providing spatial resolution of 150 metres. ASAR can pierce through clouds and local darkness and is capable of differentiating between different types of ice.
Mariangela D'Acunto | alfa
Oasis of life in the ice-covered central Arctic
24.10.2016 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
Receding glaciers in Bolivia leave communities at risk
20.10.2016 | European Geosciences Union
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences
24.10.2016 | Life Sciences
24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy