Iceberg the size of Malta breaks up

Eloise Marshall
February 14, 2020

"As anticipated, Pine Island Glacier, known as PIG for short, in Antarctica has just spawned a huge iceberg", the European Space Agency said.

Last month, scientists also recorded unusually warm water beneath the Thwaites Glacier, a neighbour to Pine Island. More recently, scientists have been trying to determine if the glaciers are entering a period of "runaway" melting. The video combines 57 radar images captured by the ESA Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission over the a year ago, from February 2019 to February 10, 2020. "The acceleration of the Pine Island glacier stretches the glacier, causing the thinning and likely making the ice more prone to crevassing (cracking) upstream".

The ESA revealed Tuesday that one of its satellites had captured a significant event of calving - the process in which a glacier sheds huge blocks of ice.

As a matter of fact, the Pine Island Glacier, along with its neighbor Thwaites Glacier are two major glaciers connecting the West Antarctic ice sheet to the ocean.

However, it should be mentioned that recent calving events are not entirely surprising or particularly threatening to global sea levels. The largest of them was so big, it was even given a name: B-49. With Pine Island, the ice front has retreated inland, which means the calving rate has increased more than the glacier has accelerated.

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The floating ice front of Pine Island Glacier, which has an average thickness of approximately 500 meters, has undergone a series of detachment events in the past 30 years, some of which have abruptly changed the shape and position of the ice front.

While the world is dealing with climate change issues Antarctica has recorded almost 64.9 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a new temperature record on the continent.

Thanks to the combination of both optical and radar images from the Copernicus Sentinel satellite missions, growing cracks were spotted in the Pine Island Glacier previous year, and since then, scientists have been keeping a close eye on how quick the cracks were growing.

He said he hopes the images would continue to be an "eye in the sky" to monitor glacial change and improve public knowledge.

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