Antarctic’s Pine Island Glacier Produces Giant Iceberg

Antarctic's Pine Island Glacier Produces Giant Iceberg

The Antarctic’s Pine Island Glacier (PIG) has spawned a giant iceberg measuring roughly eight times the size of Manhattan Island in New York.

Pine Island Glacier (PIG), one of the Antarctic’s largest ice streams, flows west-northwest along the south side of the Hudson Mountains into Pine Island Bay, Amundsen Sea, in Antarctica.

Satellite and airborne measurements recorded a discernible thinning of the Pine Island Glacier in recent years, prompting the anticipation of the giant iceberg from ice calving.

Ice calving, also known as glacier calving or iceberg calving, is the breaking off of chunks of ice at the edge of a glacier. In the case of the recently produced giant iceberg, scientists observed a crack spreading across the massive glacier’s surface dating back since late 2011.

Finally, Monday, the fissure tore a rift along the entire width of the glacier, which was confirmed by a German satellite (TerraSAR-X) as the region is currently in winter darkness, reports BBC.

Professor Angelika Humbert, a glaciologist with the Alfred Wegener Institute, said, “We were very keen to see how the crack propagated.”

The massive segment, a giant iceberg, calved from the front portion of the Pine Island Glacier and pushed out into the surrounding frigid ocean.

Data regarding the factors that contribute to calving are currently being assembled from glaciers and icebergs in order to better assess the processes promoting a fracture. This information will aid in establishing a reliable predictive mathematical formula.

Researchers hope to establish a mathematical calving law that will allow them to forecast climate and topographical changes in the glaciers.

Experts state the Pine Island Glacier is the most rapidly shrinking ice mass on the planet, losing more ice than any other glacier on the planet, reports UPI.

The fissure that led to Pine Island Glacier’s birth of a giant iceberg was first photographed by a NASA plane in October 2011.

While flying over the Pine Island Glacier in a DC-8 research plane, scientists participating in NASA’s IceBridge mission made a startling discovery on October 14, 2011: a massive crack running about 29 kilometers (18 miles) across the glacier’s floating tongue.

The rift was 80 meters (260 feet) wide and thought to be 50 to 60 meters (165 to 195 feet) deep, demarcating the moment of creation for the new giant iceberg. Many assumed the calving of the massive, tabular iceberg would occur quickly, but instead it took almost two years.

[Image via Wikicommons]