TerraSAR-X monitors Antarctic”s ice shelf breakup

TerraSAR-X monitors Antarctic”s ice shelf breakup

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Germany: A huge area of the ice shelf broke away from the Pine Island glacier, the longest and fastest flowing glacier in the Antarctic, and is now floating in the Amundsen Sea in the form of a very large iceberg. Scientists of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research have been following this natural spectacle via the earth observation satellites TerraSAR-X from the German Space Agency (DLR) and have documented it in many individual images.

Scientists from the American space agency NASA discovered the first crack in the glacier tongue on 14 October 2011 when flying over the area. At that time it was some 24 kilometres long and 50 metres wide. “As a result of these cracks, one giant iceberg broke away from the glacier tongue. It measures 720 square kilometres and is therefore almost as large as the city of Hamburg”, says Prof. Angelika Humbert, ice researcher at the Alfred Wegener Institute.

The glaciologist and her team used the high resolution radar images of the DLR earth observation satellite TerraSAR-X to observe the progress of the two cracks and to better understand the physical processes behind the glacier movements.

Source: Alfred Wegener Institute