Iceberg the size of Malta breaks up

One of Antarctica's fastest-shrinking glaciers just lost an iceberg twice the size of Washington, D.C.

Temperatures there have increased nearly 3C over the last 50 years, according to the World Meteorological Organisation.

Over the last 20 years glaciers, Thwaites and pine island began to crack every year, although I new the ice was formed approximately every 4-6 years.

A story about a glacier shedding mass at the edge of the world, threatening to raise ocean levels and potentially contribute to untold environmental change. Sentinel satellite missions have been keeping a close eye on two large rifts in the PIG, spotted past year. In total, the icebergs measure about twice the size of Washington, D.C., in area (more than 130 square miles, or 350 square kilometers), according to The Washington Post.

The largest iceberg ever recorded broke away from Antarctica in March 2000. The iceberg fragmented as soon as it separated from the glacier.

Only one of the pieces was large enough to be named (B-49) and tracked by the United States National Ice Centre. Warmer ocean water and declining snowfall are not allowing the glacier to replenish itself.

This phenomenon of calving isn't new for Pine Island Glacier, according to the ESA.

In October 2019, Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 satellites were used to identify two large rifts in the PIG that had drastically increased in length within a matter of months.

"The sequence of calving events over the last years shows that they have become more frequent, that the icebergs disintegrate more quickly and that the Pine Island ice shelf is reaching its smallest extent in recent observational history", he said.

These changes have been mapped by European Space Agency-built satellites since the 1990s, with calving events occurring in 1992, 1995, 2001, 2007, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2018, and now 2020. The ice stream is now moving at about 10 meters (33 feet) per day, which might not seem like much until you know that the average thickness of the glacier front is about 500 meters (1,640 feet). However, the rate of melting and calving in West Antarctica is greater than is being observed in the satellite record.

It comes just days after a station on the Antarctic Peninsula logged its hottest day on record, registering a temperature of 18.3 degrees Celsius. "We have been crying out for instruments like this", Drinkwater said.

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



Other news