NASA | Flying Through the Rift

Uploaded by NASAexplorer on 28.02.2012

The crack is growing.
In Western Antarctica, on one of the continent’s largest and fastest-moving glaciers,
an iceberg as big as New York City slowly breaks away.
It's been four months since NASA's Operation IceBridge
surveyed the Pine Island Glacier, and performed the first detailed airborne measurements
of the genesis of such a massive iceberg.
By draping aerial photography over laser altimetry data,
IceBridge team members have created this 3D virtual flythough of the crack in the ice.
The nearly 20 mile long rift
is 50 to 60 meters deep, but that’s just down to the waterline.
Since this is a floating ice shelf,
there’s approximately 8 times as much ice under the water.
Upstream from the rift, a separate research team studying
flow has installed GPS devices that may be able to detect
whether Pine Island Glacier speeds up after the iceberg splits off.
In the meantime, NASA satellites have been watching as the rift
spreads a few more meters each day.
But just when will this iceberg be born? It's hard to say, but if it doesn't split off
during the coming weeks, developing sea ice could protect it for months
as the oncoming Antarctic winter sets in.