October 24, 2012

Witnessing the Birth of a Giant Iceberg (VIDEO)

Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier is preparing to spawn a giant iceberg. Scientists have been watching it since late 2011. This post lets you see what they see.
This image is a still frame captured from a three-dimensional, virtual flight through the rift in the Pine Island Glacier. Image via NASA.

On October 14, 2011, scientists participating in NASA’s IceBridge mission – who were flying over Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier in a DC-8 research plane – discovered a massive crack, or rift, running about 29 kilometers (18 miles) across the part of the glacier that extends into the Amundsen Sea. 

This rift marks the imminent birth of a new iceberg. Since then, when they could, scientists have been watching the rift propagate through the glacier. They’re waiting for it to release the iceberg, which they estimate could span 300 to 350 square miles (up to 900 square kilometers). The animation below – released by NASA on October 15, 2012 – shows how the rift in the glacier has been getting longer since scientists first observed it last year...

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