Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Image of the Day : Iceberg off Mertz Glacier Tongue

This animation (credit ESA), made up of eight Envisat radar images, shows the 97-km long B-9B Mertz Glacier Tongue in Eastern Antarctica in early February 2010. The collision caused a chunk of the glacier’s tongue to snap off, giving birth to another iceberg nearly as large as B-9B. The new iceberg, named C-28, is roughly 78-km long and 39-km wide, with a surface area of 2500 sq km (the size of Luxembourg).

Icebergs that calve off Antarctica’s coast are often swept up by ocean currents circling the continent, and may remain relatively intact for months or years, so long as they remain in sufficiently cool conditions. Some icebergs, however, drift north to warmer climates and disintegrate. By observing the response of an iceberg to a warmer climate at a lower latitude, scientists can make predictions about how ice shelves—thick slabs of ice attached to coastlines—might respond to a warming climate.

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