Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Antarctica ICE MELT Eyewitnesses

Currents of warm water beneath

Antarctica glacier are melting

 the ice

at a staggering rate of about

 2.4 inches (6 centimeters) per day!

Breaking up:
This astonishing photograph, taken from outer-space in November 2011 illustrates how an iceberg the size of New York is close to splitting from Antarctic. 

A massive iceberg, larger than the city of Chicago, broke off of Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier on Monday (July 8), and is now floating freely in the Amundsen Sea, according to a team of German scientists.

The newborn iceberg measures about 278 square miles (720 square kilometers), and was seen by TerraSAR-X, an earth-observing satellite operated by the German Space Agency (DLR). Scientists with NASA's Operation IceBridgefirst discovered a giant crack in the Pine Island Glacier in October 2011, as they were flying over and surveying the sprawling ice sheet.
At that time, the fissure spanned about 15 miles (24 km) in length and 164 feet (50 meters) in width, according to researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, Germany. In May 2012, satellite images revealed a second rift had formed near the northern side of the first crack. MORE

In October, 2011, NASA's Operation IceBridge discovered a major rift in the Pine Island Glacier in western Antarctica. This crack, which extends at least 18 miles and is 50 meters deep, could produce an iceberg more than 800 square kilometers in size. IceBridge scientists returned soon after to make the first-ever detailed airborne measurements of a major iceberg calving in progress.

NASA's Operation IceBridge has launched its Antarctic 2012 campaign, flying high-priority missions measuring polar ice from a base of operations at the tip of Patagonia on the Strait of Magellan. They have even made a return visit to the Pine Island Glacier, the site of last year's discovery of a massive rift in the ice.

Sea ice doesn't always hold the allure of a massive ice sheet, or a crevassed blue glacier spilling between mountains, but it comes in array of shapes and sizes and has its own ephemeral beauty. Operation IceBridge studies sea ice at both poles, and also runs across interesting formations on route to other targets. Operation IceBridge returned to the Pine Island Glacier twice in 2012, and NASA glaciologist Kelly Brunt discusses the implications of the glacier's impending calving event.

Operation IceBridge has now returned to the Pine Island Glacier, not once, but twice in 2012. And the year-old giant crack in the glacier, poised to create an iceberg the size of New York City? Well it's still there, and that iceberg has yet to break free. But the rift has grown longer, much wider, and spawned a secondary crack. Before we talk about when that mighty berg will be born, let's take a look at the IceBridge missions themselves. IceBridge's first return to the region was a high altitude flight over the entire region, including the Thwaites, Smith, and Kohler glaciers. After this campaign is over, scientists will be able to compare this broad survey with previous years' measurements in order to better document the rapid and widespread changes in the region over time.

The views from the cockpit of NASA's P-3B aircraft on an Operation IceBridge campaign are truly stunning. The mission doesn't travel to both ends of the Earth for the scenery of course -- the airborne mission is there to collect radar, laser altimetry, and other data on the changing ice sheets, glaciers, and sea ice of the Arctic and Antarctic. But for those of us who aren't polar pilots, here's a selection of some of the best footage from the forward and nadir cameras mounted to the aircraft taken during IceBridge's spring deployment over Greenland and the Arctic Ocean.

IceBridge, a six-year NASA mission, is the largest airborne survey of Earth's polar ice ever flown. It will yield an unprecedented three-dimensional view of Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets, ice shelves and sea ice. These flights will provide a yearly, multi-instrument look at the behavior of the rapidly changing features of the Greenland and Antarctic ice. Data collected during IceBridge will help scientists bridge the gap in polar observations between NASA's Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) -- in orbit since 2003 -- and ICESat-2, planned for late 2015. ICESat stopped collecting science data in 2009, making IceBridge critical for ensuring a continuous series of observations. IceBridge will use airborne instruments to map Arctic and Antarctic areas once a year. The first IceBridge flights were conducted in March/May 2009 over Greenland and in October/November 2009 over Antarctica. Other smaller airborne surveys around the world are also part of the IceBridge campaign.

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