Dates are March 6, 2000, and January 4, 2001. Bathymetric controls on calving processes at Pine Island Glacier. An enormous iceberg about five times the size of Manhattan broke off Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier yesterday (Oct. 29), a mere month after a crack first appeared, satellite imagery shows. Last week, the massive iceberg finally “cracked off” the glacier and open ocean now separates the iceberg and the glacier’s “calving front” according to NASA. But once again, the calving might have happened some days before under cloud cover. This article, written by Ashly Fusiarski, a field assistant at the British Antarctic Survey, describes how he helped set up the remote field camps and equipment for the iSTAR tractor train in the 2011-12 Antarctic summer. Scientists are watching Pine Island Glacier closely because of … “The process of how a large outlet glacier like Pine Island ‘shrinks’ has some interesting twists,” said Bob Bindschadler, an emeritus NASA glaciologist who landed on Pine Island Glacier’s ice shelf in 2008. Here’s NASA’s stunning view of the glacier after that initial crack: Since that time, the crack expanded to the southwestern edge of the ice shelf before fracturing or “calving” in July. Remote Sensing, Snow and Ice On September 28, 2017, the OLI on Landsat 8 acquired this image of the recently calved Iceberg B-44. Have a question about our comment policies? The glacier ice streams flow west-northwest along the south side of the Hudson Mountains into Pine Island Bay, Amundsen Sea, Antarctica. By signing up you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, Editor and writer covering weather and climate, Share your feedback by emailing the author. In August 2015, the U.S. National Ice Center reported that a calving event had occurred in the darkness of winter, likely in late July. That's why researchers decided to take a closer look to see exactly what was causing this increased melting. Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica is known for dispensing icebergs into the Amundsen Sea, but the frequency of such events appears to be on the rise. Thinning of the ice shelf that extends over Pine Island Bay has likely contributed to the increased frequency with which the glacier has calved icebergs in recent years. This photo, shot by NASA science writer Kate Ramsayer during a research flight on November 7, 2018, shows sea ice between Pine Island Glacier and the newly calved Iceberg B-46. NASA/Images of Change. The animation at the top of this page shows a wide view of Pine Island Glacier (PIG) and the long-term retreat of its ice front. The top image shows the area on January 24, 2017, while the second image shows the same area on January 26. Both the Thwaites Glacier and the Pine Island Glacier are some of the fastest-retreating glaciers in Antarctica, primarily due to warm ocean water … “It is hard to predict with certainty where and when these things will drift,” says NASA glaciologist Kelly Brunt. The animation at the top of this page shows a wide view of Pine Island Glacier (PIG) and the long-term retreat of its ice front. The pattern indicated stresses at the center of the ice shelf. Instead, the glacier is … Researchers operating special ship-mounted sonar gear found a series of 25-mile-wide channels in the seafloor that bring warm water to the base of the Thwaites and Pine Island Glaciers. The image below show Antarctica's Pine Island, in Sepetember 2018 (left), and in November 2016 (right). Remote Sensing. Notice that there are times when the front appears to stay in the same place or even advance, though the overall trend is toward retreat. Robert Marsh, a scientist at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom tracking the ice, says it could eventually intersect Southern Ocean shipping lanes. Before. NASA satellite imagery shows a before and after of an iceberg, the size of Atlanta, calving off Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica. NASA Earth Observatory map by Jesse Allen, based on a model by Michael Studinger of NASA IceBridge and gravity data from Columbia University. The largest piece, named Iceberg B-46, spanned 226 square kilometers. Credit: Earth Observatory The red line shows where the 2017 Pine Island Glacier iceberg broke off. Pine Island and Thwaites are among the continent's most dynamic glaciers — and their melting is responsible for some 5 per cent of global sea level rise to date. Photo: NASA. “It takes a bit of energy and time to move these guys into the Southern Ocean,” Brunt added. The Landsat 8 satellite acquired these before-and-after images of the new iceberg on September 17, 2018 and November 7, 2018, respectively. You have probably noticed that each iceberg has the letter “B,” in its name. Pine Island and Thwaites Glacier have retrograde beds below sea level which makes them prone to marine ice sheet instability. Landsat 8 captured this view on November 13, 2013. Sometime between November 9 and November 11, 2013, a large iceberg separated from the front of Pine Island Glacier. Darkness engulfs the poles during winter, and in months when there is ample sunlight, clouds can obscure the view. A slow zoom down to Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier where a crack has formed. "Pine Island Glacier is a major outlet of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The cracks, like the one visible in this image from March 8, 2015, were a precursor to further retreat of the ice front. Polar Geospatial Center at the University of Minnesota, Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer. Rift in Antarctic Glacier: A Unique Chance to Study Ice Shelf Retreat. “Icebergs move pretty slowly, and watching this iceberg will be a waiting game.”. “Part 2, “To The Ice Shelf And Back”, sees Bindschadler land on the Pine Island Glacier ice shelf, a place no human has ever visited before. Images were acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite from 2000 to 2019. Earth Matters: A Little More on That Ice Rift in Antarctica…. The 1km long chink calved from the front of the Pine Island Glacier, one of the main glaciers responsible for moving ice from the interior of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to the ocean. At the end of October 2018, the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-1 satellite observed the glacier letting go of a huge chunk of ice. The calving of icebergs during the austral winter is not surprising. It is possible that these fractures could spawn a new iceberg in 2019. While this outlet glacier is just one of many around the perimeter of Antarctica, data collected from the ground, air, and space confirm that Pine Island is worth extra attention. The behemoth measured 42 kilometers long and 17 kilometers wide, an area of 714 square kilometers. View All Images in This Event: Pine Island Glacier in Retreat. More recently, calving has occurred on a near-annual basis and the bergs tend to break up more easily into smaller pieces. Overall, 98% of Alaska's glaciers are … Around this time, Pine Island Glacier started to shed smaller icebergs more frequently. NASA Goddard Space Before and after satellite imagery show an iceberg breaking off the calving front of the Pine Island Glacier. Unlike previous cracks, these originated from the center of the glacier and propagated outward toward the margins. A crack at the glacier was first noted by scientists in October, 2011. If icebergs calve off at a rate that matches the glacier’s acceleration, the ice front stays in the same place. Notes From the Field: Pine Island Glacier 2011. Check out some photographs from that flight here. Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier calves massive iceberg. (It is possible that the calving occurred one day prior, but clouds prevented a clear look.) Another OLI image shows the same area on September 17, 2018, before a rift quickly propagated across the glacier and spawned the bergs.. Before-and-after images taken from space show the Thwaites glacier dissolving into the sea. April 9, 2019. Click to see Antarctica with/without ice Sea level rise potential. A giant mass of ice, about the size of Virginia Beach, broke off of Antarctica’s Pine Island glacier last week and is slowly drifting away. Like the Palmer at Pine Island in 1994, it found deep, warm water flowing under the ice shelf, at a rate of 4.5 cubic miles a day. Using Landsat 7 data showing before and after. Ice-shelf changes in Pine Island Bay, Antarctica, 1947–2000. Pine Island Glacier birthed icebergs in January 2001, November 2007, December 2011, August 2015 and September 2017. Now that the iceberg has broken off, researchers are keenly interested in where it’s headed. By October 15, fragments had already fallen below 70 square kilometers (20 square nautical miles)—the minimum size required for tracking by the U.S. National Ice Center. A rift in the glacier first became visible on September 10, 2000, in images from NASA’s new Terra satellite, but the cracking probably started in the darkness of austral winter. Most people will never see Pine Island Glacier in person. It is, along with neighboring Thwaites Glacier, one of the main pathways for ice entering the Amundsen Sea from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and one the fastest-retreating glaciers in Antarctica. Fractures near the seaward edge cause the ice to calve off as icebergs, a normal part of life for glaciers that extend over water. But over the long term at Pine Island, you can see that the ice front has retreated inland, which means the calving rate has increased more than the glacier has accelerated. Scientists are studying whether the frequency and nature of these events may change in the future due to global warming. The looming loss of the Thwaites Glacier is so worrisome that the US and UK created an international agency to study it. Story by Kathryn Hansen. Life on Pine Island Glacier. Images were acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite from 2000 to 2019. Hence it is “not necessarily a surprise” according to Tom Wagner, NASA’s cryosphere program manager. Bindschadler explained that a shrinking outlet glacier is usually doing three things: thinning (mostly at the seaward edge), retreating, and accelerating. 13. The iceberg is estimated to be 21 miles by 12 miles, or 252 square miles – roughly the size of Virginia Beach (249 square miles) or Singapore (275 square miles). Yet in recent years, this ice shelf has rapidly thinned and accelerated. A giant mass of ice, about the size of Virginia Beach, broke off of Antarctica’s Pine Island glacier last week and is slowly drifting away. Review our, was first noted by scientists in October, 2011, NASA’s Operational Land Imager on the Landsat 8 satellite captured. NASA’s Brunt says it may be a long while until the iceberg exits Pine Island Glacier Bay. From 1941 to 2004, the Muir Glacier retreated seven miles and its thickness decreased by about 2,625 feet. (The 2015 icebergs calved amid the darkness of austral winter.) Researchers reported anomalous rifts forming between 2013 and 2015 on Pine Island Glacier. While there tends to be more sea ice at this time of year, it is no match for the huge stresses within the massive ice shelf. Large cracks are forming farther upstream from the ice front than ever before—even in the middle of the ice shelf, where scientists had never previously seen them grow. Story by Kathryn Hansen. The image above shows a clear view from October 15, 2007. About a kilometer or two of ice appears to have calved (broken off) from the shelf’s front. NASA/Images of Change. The new PNAS study found that shear margins on the Pine Island and Thwaites Glaciers are weakening and breaking apart, which could cause ice to flow into the ocean.. The glacier has been calving more and more icebergs in recent years, NASA says. Another block of ice, roughly a mile (one to two kilometers) long, has broken off Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier and floated into the adjacent bay. Researchers with the International Thwaites Glacier Offshore Research project discovered Sif Island while sailing near the coast of the Pine Island Glacier, another major glacier of the Antarctic Peninsula. Pinpointing the exact birthdate of icebergs using natural color images can be a challenge. NASA’s Operation IceBridge flew over the berg that same day. Decline of West Antarctic Glaciers Appears Irreversible. The glacier is estimated to deliver some 19 cubic miles (79 cubic kilometers) of ice to the bay each year. NASA Earth Observatory image by Lauren Dauphin, using MODIS data from NASA EOSDIS/LANCE and GIBS/Worldview. The acceleration stretches the glacier, causing the thinning and likely making the ice more prone to crevassing (cracking) “upstream.”. For example, data collected during science flights in 2009 led researchers to discover a deep-water channel (map below) that could funnel warm water to the glacier’s underbelly and melt it from below. The image above shows the iceberg on November 11, 2001. That was about to change. The event produced a number of sizeable icebergs including B-41, which was still close to the shelf when this image was acquired on November 26, 2015. BEFORE AND AFTER: Photos Show How Climate Change Is Already Melting The World's Glaciers Nov 27, 2020, 01:00 IST Pine Island glacier is one of the fastest-moving glaciers in Antarctica. @capitalweather here's the most recent image, it was captured Nov 17, 2013. http://t.co/dMJMjZzONZ pic.twitter.com/Q8SyDbZFBQ, — NASA Goddard Images (@NASA_GoddardPix) November 18, 2013. The rift continued to spread across the glacier until it finally calved on November 9, 2001. Image development and design by Lauren Dauphin. The following images, acquired with Terra MODIS and the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8, show Pine Island Glacier’s most notable calving events over the past two decades. NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey. NASA Earth Observatory animation by Lauren Dauphin, using MODIS data from NASA EOSDIS/LANCE and GIBS/Worldview. The berg had an area of 185 square kilometers. Decades of investigations have given scientists a better idea of the quirks of PIG’s behavior. New rifts were already visible in satellite images on November 2018. Snow and Ice For the more casual viewer, here is a Polar View location map of Pine Island Glacier (PIG) and Pine Island Ice Shelf (PIIS) [orange circle added] and a piece of the highlighted radar image from this 3:47 am image and a later radar image (4:35 am) See how much (little) movement there was in 45 minutes. In 2015, a 224-square-mile iceberg broke off from the glacier. Only a handful of scientists have ever set foot on its ice. Notice that there are times when the front appears to stay in the same place or even advance, though the overall trend is toward … The new PNAS study found that shear margins on the Pine Island and Thwaites Glaciers are weakening and breaking apart, which could cause ice to flow into the ocean.. Pine Island Glacier is also a fast-melting glacier, losing 58 billion tons of ice every year. The calving of B-46 is the latest in a string of near-annual events; Pine Island Glacier has shed icebergs in 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Large calving events used to take place at Pine Island Glacier every four to six years. Posted August 1, 2013 under Stories from the field. Flight Center, NASA Earth Observatory (2012, February 29). NASA Earth Observatory map by Lauren Dauphin, using Reference Elevation Model of Antarctica (REMA) data from the Polar Geospatial Center at the University of Minnesota. That’s shorter than a cross-country flight from New York to Los Angeles, but there are no runways on the glacier and no infrastructure. The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 captured these images of Pine Island Glacier’s floating edge before and after the recent break. “This underlies our concern that retreating outlet glaciers can ‘shrink’ rapidly,” Bindschadler said. “There’s a lot of activity to and from the Antarctic Peninsula, and ships could potentially cross paths with this large iceberg, although it would be an unusual coincidence,” says Marsh. Collectively, the region contains enough vulnerable ice to raise global sea level by 1.2 meters (4 feet). Antarctica with/without ice. “This is indicative of a progressive collapse of the ice shelf,” said Eric Rignot, a glaciologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. NASA says this sort of “calving event” happens every five or six years. The glacier, which is described in a paper published yesterday in Geophysical Research Letters, is called Pine Island Glacier. Until this point, large icebergs were calving from Pine Island Glacier every four to six years. Scientists think the change in calving frequency is likely related to the thinning of the ice shelf. Editor’s Note: Earth Observatory would like to thank the following scientists for help with image interpretation: Eric Rignot/JPL, Robert Bindschadler/NASA GSFC (emeritus), Christopher Shuman, UMBC/NASA GSFC, and Chris Readinger/U.S. NASA Earth Observatory image by Holli Riebeek, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey. “Many icebergs in Pine Island Bay have persisted for years before exiting, so this could be a long waiting game.”. Located near the base of the Antarctic Peninsula—the “thumb” of the continent—the glacier lies more than 2,600 kilometers (1,600 miles) from the tip of South America. NASA Earth Observatory image by Lauren Dauphin, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey. The Thwaites and Pine Island glaciers in the Antarctic, along the coast of the Amundsen Sea, are already under scrutiny, having been responsible for five per cent of the rise in global sea levels; and scientists think they could undergo even more dramatic changes in the near future. NASA. Before/after view. Unlike Pine Island Glacier—which tends to shed large icebergs every few years (now almost annually)—the icebergs that now break from Thwaites are generally not large enough to be named and tracked by the U.S. National Ice Center. The looming loss of the Thwaites Glacier is so worrisome that the US and UK created an international agency to study it. NASA’s Operational Land Imager on the Landsat 8 satellite captured this before and after sequence of the iceberg on October 28 and November 13. The most important news stories of the day, curated by Post editors and delivered every morning. In the case of bergs from Pine Island Glacier and others that start in the Amundsen and Eastern Ross seas, the names begin with “B”. Thinning can destabilize the shelf because the ice loses contact with points on the ocean floor that strongly influence its grounding or stability. All seems to be going well, but en route back to WAIS to collect more gear, Bob’s told that the landing site is too hard for more safe touchdowns. It was mapped by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) from surveys and United States Navy (USN) air photos, 1960–66, and named by the Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names (US-ACAN) in association with Pine Island Bay. The U.S. National Ice Center assigns names to sizeable icebergs depending on the quadrant of Antarctica in which the berg was first sighted. B-35 had drifted farther from the ice front. Update: NASA shares with us a current view of the now “ice island” in Pine Island Glacier Bay here: . Scientists often use radar and thermal imagery to get a better look under these less-optimal conditions. Pine Island Glacier (PIG) is a large ice stream, and the fastest melting glacier in Antarctica, responsible for about 25% of Antarctica's ice loss. Pine Island Glacier is nearly two thirds the size of the Uk or the size of Texas Credit: James Smith/ British Antarctic Survey. National/Naval Ice Center. PS: the glacier is about 50 km wide. It is visible here on November 7, 2018, as observed by Landsat 8. Image development and design by Lauren Dauphin. The berg, named B-31, measured 700 square kilometers. After . An image from MODIS on the Aqua satellite first showed Iceberg B-27 on September 28, 2007. Destabilize the shelf ’ s Terra satellite from 2000 to 2019 published yesterday in Geophysical Research Letters is. 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