Larsen B Breakup Events: 1995-2002

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Satellite photo series of Larsen B breakup, 31 January to 7 March 2002

Larsen B animation

MODIS images from NASA's Terra satellite —National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of Colorado, Boulder. (For high resolution animation and images, contact the NSIDC press office at +1 303 492.1497)

This movie shows the events of January, February, and March 2002 as recorded by NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) satellite sensor. The images show the Larsen B Ice Shelf and parts of the Antarctic Peninsula (on left).

The first scene, from January 31, 2002, shows the shelf in late austral summer with dark bluish melt ponds dotting its surface. In the next two scenes minor retreat takes place, amounting to about 800 square kilometers (300 square miles), during which time several of the melt ponds well away from the ice front drain through new cracks within the shelf.

The main collapse is seen in the last two scenes, on March 5 and 7, with thousands of sliver icebergs and a large area of very finely divided bergy bits where the shelf formerly lay. Brownish streaks within the floating chunks mark areas where rocks and morainal debris are exposed from the former underside and interior of the shelf. The last phases of the retreat totalled about 2,600 square kilometers (1,000 square miles). Resolution of the original images is 500 meters (1,640 feet).