Thursday, March 27, 2008

This is what a disintegrating ice shelf looks like

Formosat image courtesy Cheng-Chien Liu, © 2008 Earth Dynamic System Research Center, NCKU
In late February 2008, an ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula disintegrated into a floating pile of massive ice bergs, smaller ice fragments, and slush that was trapped in place by freezing sea water over subsequent weeks. The dramatic event was first spotted in NASA satellite imagery by Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Over the following days, international collaborators used images from satellites and aircraft to track the event.

This highly detailed image from the Taiwanese Formosat-2 satellite shows the different sizes, shapes, and textures of the ice fragments on March 8, 2008. Several large icebergs float amid a mosaic of smaller pieces of ice. The level of detail in the image is so great that it can seem as though you are standing over a scale model made out of papier-mâché and foam blocks. The detail can make the bergs seem deceptively small. In reality, some of the large bergs are several hundred meters (yards) long.
NASA's Earth Observatory reports on the disintegration of the Wilkins ice shelf here.

No comments: