Monitoring of Pine Island Glacier, Antarctica, Reveals Wide New Crack

Back to Larsen Ice Shelf Breakup Events

22 March 2001

Pine Island Glacier has undergone a steady loss of elevation with retreat of the grounding line in recent decades. Now, space imagery has revealed a wide new crack that some scientists think will soon result in a calving event.

Glaciologist Robert Bindschadler of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center predicts this crack will result in the calving of a major iceberg, probably in less than 18 months.

Discovery of the crack was possible due to multi-year image archives and high resolution imagery. "This multi-year archive of Landsat 7 images is an invaluable investment in research on Antarctica," says Bindschadler.

ASTER and MODIS images can also shed light features of the Antarctic surface, including the recently discovered crack. NASA's Earth Observing System, for which NSIDC is a distributed active archive center, distributes both MODIS and ASTER data in addition to Landsat data.

Sample Images

aster image of pine island glacier with crack, 12 December

image taken 17 december 2000