NASA on the Antarctic Crack

PUNTA ARENAS, CHILE – After discovering an emerging crack that cuts across the floating ice shelf of Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica, NASA’s Operation IceBridge has flown a follow-up mission and made the first-ever detailed airborne measurements of a major iceberg calving in progress.

NASA’s Operation Ice Bridge, the largest airborne survey of Earth’s polar ice ever flown, is in the midst of its third field campaign from Punta Arenas, Chile. The six-year mission will yield an unprecedented three-dimensional view of Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets, ice shelves and sea ice.

Pine Island Glacier last calved a significant iceberg in 2001, and some scientists have speculated recently that it was primed to calve again. But until an Oct. 14 IceBridge flight of NASA’s DC-8, no one had seen any evidence of the ice shelf beginning to break apart. Since then, a more detailed look back at satellite imagery seems to show the first signs of the crack in early October.

While Pine Island has scientists’ attention because it is both big and unstable – scientists call it the largest source of uncertainty in global sea level rise projections – the calving underway now is part of a natural process for a glacier that terminates in open water. Gravity pulls the ice in the glacier westward along Antarctica’s Hudson Mountains toward the Amundsen Sea. A floating tongue of ice reaches out 30 miles into the Amundsen beyond the grounding line, the below-sea-level point where the ice shelf locks onto the continental bedrock. As ice pushes toward the sea from the interior, inevitably the ice shelf will crack and send a large iceberg free.

“We are actually now witnessing how it happens and it’s very exciting for us,” said IceBridge project scientist Michael Studinger, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. “It’s part of a natural process but it’s pretty exciting to be here and actually observe it while it happens. To my knowledge, no one has flown a lidar instrument over an actively developing rift such as this.”

A primary goal of Operation IceBridge is to put the same instruments over the exact same flight lines and satellite tracks, year after year, to gather meaningful and accurate data of how ice sheets and glaciers are changing over time. But discovering a developing rift in one of the most significant science targets in the world of glaciology offered a brief change in agenda for the Oct. 26 flight, if only for a 30-minute diversion from the day’s prescribed flight lines.

The IceBridge team observed the rift running across the ice shelf for about 18 miles. The lidar instrument on the DC-8, the Airborne Topographic Mapper, measured the rift’s shoulders about 820 feet apart (250 meters) at its widest, although the rift stretched about 260 feet wide along most of the crack. The deepest points from the ice shelf surface ranged 165 to 195 feet (50 to 60 meters). When the iceberg breaks free it will cover about 340 square miles (880 square kilometers) of surface area. Radar measurements suggested the ice shelf in the region of the rift is about 1,640 feet (500 meters) feet thick, with only about 160 feet of that floating above water and the rest submerged. It is likely that once the iceberg floats away, the leading edge of the ice shelf will have receded farther than at any time since its location was first recorded in the 1940s.

In October, 2011, NASA’s Operation IceBridge discovered a major rift in the Pine Island Glacier in western Antarctica. This crack, which extends at least 18 miles and is 50 meters deep, could produce an iceberg more than 800 square kilometers in size. IceBridge scientists returned soon after to make the first-ever detailed airborne measurements of a major iceberg calving in progress. Credit: NASA/Goddard/Jefferson Beck
› Play/Download video

Veteran DC-8 pilot Bill Brockett first flew the day’s designed mission, crisscrossing the flow of the glacier near the grounding line to gather data on its elevation, topography and thickness. When it came time to investigate the crack, Brockett flew across it before turning to fly along the rift by sight. The ATM makes its precision topography maps with a laser than scans 360 degrees 20 times per second, while firing 3,000 laser pulses per second. When flying at an altitude of 3,000 feet, as during this flight, it measures a swath of the surface about 1,500 feet wide. As the crack measured at more than 800 feet wide in places, it was important for Brockett to hold tight over the crevasse.

“The pilots did a really nice job of keeping the aircraft and our ATM scan swath pretty much centered over the rift as you flew from one end to the other,” said Jim Yungel, who leads the ATM team out of NASA’s Wallops Island Flight Facility in Virginia. “It was a real challenge to be told…we’re going to attempt to fly along it and let’s see if your lidar systems can map that crack and can map the bottom of the crack.

“And it was a lot of fun on a personal level to see if something that you built over the years can actually do a job like that. So, yeah, I enjoyed it. I really enjoyed seeing the results being produced.”

While the ATM provided the most detailed measurements of the topography of the rift, other instruments onboard the DC-8 also captured unique aspects. The Digital Mapping System, a nadir-view camera, gathered high-definition close-ups of the craggy split. On the flight perpendicular to the crack, the McCORDS radar also measured its depth and the thickness of the ice shelf in that region.

Catching the rift in action required a bit of luck, but is also testimony to the science benefit of consistent, repeated trips and the flexibility of a manned mission in the field.

“A lot of times when you’re in science, you don’t get a chance to catch the big stories as they happen because you’re not there at the right place at the right time,” said John Sonntag, Instrument Team Lead for Operation IceBridge, based at Goddard Space Flight Center. “But this time we were.”

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/icebridge/news/fall11/pig-break.html

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88 Responses to NASA on the Antarctic Crack

  1. Quite telling … 40 years ago NASA was excited by the Moon. Nowadays, any crack will suffice.

  2. Peter Plail says:

    A somewhat more sober announcement than in April 2009 when the Wilkins ice shelf collapsed:

    “Global warming blamed for unstable ice shelf in Antarctica
    Satellite images of Antarctica show a huge ice shelf has become unstable, with icebergs breaking off it, in the latest evidence of climate change.” Daily Telegraph 29 Apr 2009.

    Surely sanity can’t be returning to climate science?

  3. Loco says:

    Hmmm… I wonder how long before someone says, “Look – more evidence of global warming!”.
    5… 4… 3…

  4. Scarlet Pumpernickel says:

    ummmm don’t NASA do space anymore?

  5. Scarlet Pumpernickel says:

    Imagine if NASA was around in the Younger Dryas, they would be having a heart attack with 10 degree warming in 10 years LOL

  6. the_Butcher says:

    What’s the point of watching this? Do these people get paid for watching ice break?

  7. Robert of Ottawa says:

    There’s a sentiment developing here: Hasn’t NASA got something better to do?

  8. John A says:

    Glaciers calve off Antarctica? Whatever next?

  9. Zac says:

    Since when did the National Aeronautics and Space Administration become an iceberg authority?

  10. Gary Mount says:

    I’m glad to see that the word “calving” has been put back into the dictionary.

  11. pauline says:

    well I think it is fascinating

  12. rbateman says:

    There’s been some rather healthy seismic activity round about Antarctica in the past 4 days. Especially the undersea ridges leading away from the continent.
    Wonder how that affects the progress of cracks.

  13. Paul Coppin says:

    NASA -”National Aeronautics and Space Adminstration”. I guess getting to fly in an airplane is what its all about. The ice crack is just the excuse. A travel adventure at public expense. Much more fun than sitting in front of a computer terminal waiting for satellite downloads.

  14. Old Goat says:

    A good calving – guaranteed to break the ice at parties…

  15. Paul Coppin says:

    BTW, I think your title should have been: “NASA on Antarctic Crack”., subtitled perhaps, The guys from NASA get off on some Antarctic Snow….”

  16. FrankK says:

    Its worse than we thought……………..

  17. rbateman says:
    November 3, 2011 at 3:15 am

    http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsww/Maps/ortho/270_-90.php

    Just to be geologically correct, the Pacific-Antarctic Ridge does not “lead away from” the Antarctic Plate. It forms a plate margin. That earthquake, http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsww/Quakes/usb0006i5a.php ,
    was a shallow temblor likely to cause some shellfish to get riled. It probably was not felt by anybody on the Antarctic landmass, and most certainly didn’t disturb the ocean. It did, however, most likely ( not “may have” or “could”) released some CO2!!!!!!!!! EEEEEK! Back to out regularly-scheduled thread, “NASA on Crack”

  18. John Day says:

    Here’s a TERRA satellite elapsed-time video of a previous large calving at the PIG (Pine Island Glacier), which occurred Nov 2001, 10 years ago this month:
    http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a000000/a003100/a003127/index.html

    Created a 10×30 mile berg (B-21) comparable in size (about 75% smaller) to the one forming now.

    Here’s what B-21 looked like in Jan 2001, before it calved. Satellite view of crack:
    http://pigiceshelf.nasa.gov/img/pig_tongue.jpg

    Here’s a recent photo of B-21, still floating in the bay:
    http://eoimages.gsfc.nasa.gov/ve/2561/PIA03700.jpg

  19. Harold Ambler says:

    Sounds like CO2-intensive work, but I’m sure that’s OK if it’s in the name of alerting people to the nefarious power of CO2.

  20. John Day says:

    @me
    > Here’s a recent photo of B-21, still floating in the bay:
    > http://eoimages.gsfc.nasa.gov/ve/2561/PIA03700.jpg

    Correction, that image was taken in 2002

  21. dtbronzich says:

    What happens when you drop an ice cube into hot tea? What happens if the tea is already cool?

  22. Matthew W says:

    Pretty interesting !!!

    The key statement to remember :
    “the calving underway now is part of a natural process for a glacier that terminates in open water.”

    a natural process for a glacier
    a natural process for a glacier
    a natural process for a glacier
    a natural process for a glacier

  23. Walt Stone says:

    Aside from the global warming alarmism that would accompany any such discussion of ice and Antarctica by NASA, you have to believe it’s fairly interesting to talk about the breakup of a large and thick chunk of ice in the ocean.

    Why there? Was that particular portion of the glacier when it was still grounded subject to local earthquakes and formed a zone of weakness in the ice, essentially forcing the zone to fracture at a later time? Was it bending stresses in the ocean having to do with some unknown length frequency and thickness of the glacier? Is a floating tongue of a large glacier too big to fail… until it does?

    But yes, I get it. It’s Antarctica, glaciers, sea level — of course it’s a chance for the grant money kept afloat by carbon dioxide…

    If a glacier calves off in a forest, and nobody is around to hear it, does a climate scientist make a sound?

  24. Kaboom says:

    Must be lots of fresh ice forming inland to push out that glacier.

  25. Jer0me says:

    But, but, but…

    Where is the “it’s worse than we thought” statement? Where are the doom-laden predictions. Could it be, as others have suggested, that sanity is slowly returning to science? It certainly appears so. I can’t wait for the MSM to drop the AGW scaremongering as well!

  26. the_Butcher says:

    Global Warming Crack!!!

    Send us some…

  27. Ulrich Elkmann says:

    Scarlet Pumpernickel – November 3, 2011 at 2:11 am
    “ummmm don’t NASA do space anymore?”
    No. NASA has been reoriented. The main aim now to is to make the Muslim world feel proud of their past achievements of about 1,200 years ago (i.e. translating a few Greek texts about mathematics and astronomy, which could be used in navigation & the like, instead of burning them like the rest of the library of Alexandria).
    So far, they’re doing a good job.

  28. MikeH says:

    So why NASA? This has nothing to do with Aeronautics or Space. This is more closely associated with NOAA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA has their own planes they can fly to acquire the data. They have computers to crunch the data. But NASA probably needs avenues to acquire more funding.

  29. Mr Lynn says:

    Scarlet Pumpernickel says:
    November 3, 2011 at 2:11 am
    ummmm don’t NASA do space anymore?

    ZUBRIN: Obama readies to blast NASA
    Ending planetary exploration would leave agency adrift

    By Robert Zubrin -The Washington Times

    Word has leaked out that in its new budget, the Obama administration intends to terminate NASA’s planetary exploration program. The Mars Science Lab Curiosity, being readied on the pad, will be launched, as will the nearly completed small MAVEN orbiter scheduled for 2013, but that will be it. No further missions to anywhere are planned.

    After 2013, America’s amazing career of planetary exploration, which ran from the Mariner probes in the 1960s through the great Pioneer, Viking, Voyager, Pathfinder, MarsGlobalSurveyor, MarsOdyssey, Spirit, Opportunity, MarsReconnaissanceOrbiter, Galileo and Cassini missions, will simply end.

    Furthermore, the plan from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) also leaves the space astronomy program adrift and headed for destruction. The now-orbiting Kepler Telescope will be turned off in midmission, stopping it before it can complete its goal of finding other Earths. Even worse, the magnificent Webb Telescope, the agency’s flagship, which promises fundamental breakthroughs in our understanding of the laws of the universe, is not sufficiently funded to allow successful completion. This guarantees further costly delays, with the ensuing budgetary overruns leading inevitably to eventual cancellation.

    The administration’s decision to derail planetary exploration and space astronomy is shocking and portends the destruction of the entire American space program. . .

    Read the rest of the piece here:
    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/oct/26/obama-readies-to-blast-nasa/

    /Mr Lynn

  30. Bruce Cobb says:

    Wow. That’s about 440 cubic km. (106 cu. mi.) of ice, nearly three times the amount of Antarctic ice lost between 2002 – 2005. James “coal-trains-of-death” Hansen and Alarmo-scientists worldwide must be salivating over this “catastrophe”. Just in time for the big upcoming party for worldwide climate caterwauling, too. How convenient.

  31. mkelly says:

    Gee cantilever stress causes fractures who would have thought that.

  32. agw nonsense says:

    Jim’s finally cracked has he.

  33. Warren in Minnesota says:

    While Pine Island has scientists’ attention because it is both big and unstable – scientists call it the largest source of uncertainty in global sea level rise projections – the calving underway now is part of a natural process for a glacier that terminates in open water.

    Isn’t this ice floating on the water? If it is, then there is NO uncertainty. This would not be a source for sea level rise.

  34. Bruce Cobb says:

    Hmmm…. They’re already saying this one’s about the size of NYC. By comparison, though, the largest recorded one, back in 1956 was 35 times as big, larger than Belgium. How will they spin this? Smaller icebergs due to (manmade) climate change? Should be interesting.

  35. Pamela Gray says:

    Waste…of…MY…money. 2012 cannot come soon enough.

    NASA and NOAA budgets SHOULD be cut. As in cut the duplication. NASA should focus on space exploration. NOAA should focus on Earth exploration. If anything, increase NOAA budgets to provide better weather services here. Decrease NASA to focus just on sending stuff up there.

    If that iceberg is in shipping lanes, yes, NOAA should study and track it. If it isn’t, ignore it. We know why it calves, how it calves, why it floats, and why it does NOT increase sea levels should it melt. This is not rocket science. NASA needs to continue to study the Sun because we DON’T know why it does some things. Calving icebergs into the ocean is not some kind of mystery.

    Occupy Wall Street??? Hell and damnation, those crowds are occupying the wrong real estate.

  36. MattN says:

    Glaciers calve. Good to know. Now can we get onto finding out if the Pope is Catholic???

  37. G. Karst says:

    Sorry, let me try that again! I just don’t seem to be able to post video GK

    There is a crack, a crack in everything
    That’s how the light gets in. – Leonard Cohen

  38. Zac says:

    Good to see the US has its own area standard, the NYC. Here in the UK we use the Wales.

  39. Ulrich Elkmann says:

    G. Karst: November 3, 2011 at 6:57 am:
    Combining “crack” with “space” results in “The Crack in Space”.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Crack_in_Space
    So with NASA we’re in Philip K. Dick territory.
    But we already knew that, didn’t we?

  40. The six-year mission…

    How about a tax cut instead of funding a six year project that doesn’t help people in every day life. It must be just me that thinks the economy is in bad shape and getting worse.

  41. Richard deSousa says:

    “PUNTA ARENAS, CHILE – After discovering an emerging crack that cuts across the floating ice shelf of Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica, NASA’s Operation IceBridge has flown a follow-up mission and made the first-ever detailed airborne measurements of a major iceberg calving in progress.”

    The fact this ice is floating means there will be little affect on sea rise. The useful idiots (aka MSM) will publish this event as a catastrophe for the residents of low lying areas and the Maldives.

  42. Gail Combs says:

    Scarlet Pumpernickel says:
    November 3, 2011 at 2:11 am

    ummmm don’t NASA do space anymore?
    ___________________
    NO. The last mission has been flown

    Since then Obama gave NASA the mission of making Muslims feel better about themselves. I kid you not: http://frontpagemag.com/2010/07/12/nasas-final-frontier/

  43. Jeremy says:

    What a colossal waste of taxpayer money. NASA long ago stopped doing cutting edge stuff. They are just milking the taxpayer now. Studying cracks in ice sheets &*^%!

    What will they think of next?

    How about scuba diving holidays in Puerto Rico with hand held sensors to study threatened coral reefs? (the ones that have been around over half a billion years but are suddenly hanging on by a thread!)

    …..oops they already thought of that!

    Must be nice if you can get taxpayer funded trips for research into all these “catastrophes” our planet is facing!

  44. Hmmm….just Googled – NASA Icebridge – in the “news” – got 32 results, then added “global warming” to NASA Icebridge, and the results were reduced to just 5. Does that mean global warming alarmism is slowing down, or just that alarmists haven’t haven’t figured out how to get by all of the “natural event/process” characterization of the calving yet?

  45. G. Karst says:

    Ulrich Elkmann says:
    November 3, 2011 at 7:20 am
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Crack_in_Space

    I particularly liked the following line from wiki:

    “their wind god is actually just a wind bag; that is to say, he’s just another lying, deceiving, untrustworthy member of the species homo sapiens”

    Sound like anybody we know? GK

  46. Olen says:

    NASA can determine what is happening out there from observations here on earth and knowing how ice moves is important but it is looking like the agency is more involved here than there.

    The question is how much duplication of research is being done or is it a matter of available resources? My take is the best buck is spent at NASA for work out there, after all the greatest resources are out there and the third word in NASA is Space.

  47. RHS says:

    I’m with Warren on this one, if it is already floating then is has already displaced any melt off.
    If – Radar measurements suggested the ice shelf in the region of the rift is about 1,640 feet (500 meters) feet thick, with only about 160 feet of that floating above water and the rest submerged.
    Then it seems about right that about ten percent is above the water.
    If the concern is the ice which will replace this glacier is not currently displaced in the ocean, then it should be stated.
    Right now, the only thing significant about this is a huge chunk of ice that we could camp on and ships should steer clear of…

  48. R. de Haan says:

    That;s what glaciers do…
    NASA is cracking up

  49. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the Arctic has some 9.3 million Km2 of sea ice (1979-2000 average), 6.8% melts per decade. The Antarctic has some 18.3 million Km2 of sea ice (1979-2000 average), growing 0.8% per decade.

    Sea ice is formed when ocean water freezes.
    Because the oceans are salty, this occurs at about -1.8ºC.

    Arctic sea ice extent is directly dependent on winds and currents, not just on temperatures.

  50. Steve Oregon says:

    “the_Butcher says:
    “What’s the point of watching this? Do these people get paid for watching ice break?”
    Bingo!
    That’s the game. Raise the alarms of something “happening” and it’s contrived into needed “research” to get funding so professional hobbyists can go watch stuff.

    The model of this sham (and an untold story) is the fabricated AGW link to Oregon Ocean dead zones that has led to $400 million in research grants, 5 marine reserves and whole research teams equippped with a fleet and devices for watching, measuring & sampling ocean water off the coast.
    It’s ridiculous. They are monitoring sea water and checking for hypoxia and upwelling as if their is some developing crisis while normal cycles have produced no dead zones, a healthy & thriving marine eco-system, near record dungenus crab harvest and near record fish runs.

    So what does the public, goverment or science get from the costly water watching? Nothing that a tiny fraction could not have provided. They have proven it is an ocean. An amazing discovery!

    And as their own “research” exposes their own lie of AGW dead zones it’s supressed and covered up to keep the funding flowing and prevent any consequences.
    After all the distinguished Jane Lubchenco, head of NOAA, was the chief fabricator while at Oregon State University. Her fabricated link and embellishments reached a crescendo with her claiming these global warming dead zones had reached a tipping point with larger and growing AGW caused hypoxia events happending every year for the first time in history.
    None of which was true at all. They didn’t even have any historic record to use.
    But boy did this fabrication serve her and her peers well.
    She got the NOAA job and her university peers got millions to play with.
    All from milking the the AGW movement by cooking up AGW =dead zones.

  51. gator69 says:

    I wondered what drug they were on.

  52. Jesse says:

    No doubt this will be the talk of Durban.

  53. Zac says:

    I suppose NASA is following the money. But how the mighty have fallen, from once putting men on the moon to now watching an iceberg form in the Southern ocean . Without a spaceship they can’t do much of the space part of their job description anyway.

  54. Mark says:

    I thought “greenies” didn’t like airliners.
    Maybe that only applies to modern fuel efficient ones :)

  55. stumpy says:

    Why would a chunk of ice calving off a floating shelf of sea ice of Antarctica affect sea levels? Its allready displaced its own weight in sea water

  56. TomB says:

    I had already read this article and was surprised there was no overt global warming attribution given, though they did manage to squeeze in the sea level rise meme.

  57. fred holyman says:

    What do you think , is this another global warming story for Brian Williams /NBC News?

  58. John West says:

    What really gets me is “The NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS)”
    “Current research at GISS, under the direction of Dr. James Hansen, emphasizes a broad study of Global Change, which is an interdisciplinary initiative addressing natural and man-made changes in our environment that occur on various time scales — from one-time forcings such as volcanic explosions, to seasonal/annual effects such as El Niño, and on up to the millennia of ice ages — and that affect the habitability of our planet.”

    Either study space or change the name. Actually, if it were up to me they’d all be looking for another job (scam). De-funded. Two last orders, get out and stay out.

  59. James Baloun says:

    Why is NASA studying Antarctic ice? This has nothing to do with space?

    Earth is a planet in space. One of the goals of studying other planets and moons is to better understand them and to better understand Earth. NASA engages in a variety of programs indirectly related to Space. Someone mentioned that they could just get sattelite data. How do you think the satellites are designed? Based on what? For many decades NASA has conducted airborne science as part of programs to develop equipment and scientific models to support development of sattelites. It cost much less to learn from an airborne mission than to pay for a rocket launch and find it was not the right sattelite sensor design. Much has been learned over the years. The first LANSAT for example will give you data. The data is the answer. The problem is what was the question. You have to correctly understand the light arriving from the Sun, the changes as the light propagates thorugh the atmosphere, how the light is reflected off different materials on the suface, back through the atmosphere and finally account for any instrument effects. Then develop computer programs to process the data and extract understanding as to mineral deposits or moisture content. The DC-8 has undergone hundreds of missions of many types from remote sensing to in-situ measurements. The current mission even has a gravity sensor.

    As for the comment in the article about risk to sea level rise, the risk is that a change to the floating ice may change the rate of flow of the so-called land-locked ice.

    If we cannot afford a few science aircraft, then shut it all down and go home. Humans can live just fine in prepetual ignorance like dairy cows.

    PS: I was a Mechanical Engineer on the DC-8 program for about 10 years.

  60. TomRude says:

    Of course 880km2 is quite smaller than the largest observed iceberg that came from the Filchner shelf, measured 31,000km2 and was mapped by the USSGlacier on November 12, 1956!

  61. Scarlet Pumpernickel says:

    Even if the glacier was growing it would be cracking

  62. Jake from Sudbury Ontario says:

    I wonder what kind of climate change spin NBC News and Brian Williams will put on this story when it happens. Ten to one he won’t be neutral.

  63. DesertYote says:

    Maurizio Morabito (omnologos)
    November 3, 2011 at 1:54 am

    Quite telling … 40 years ago NASA was excited by the Moon. Nowadays, any crack will suffice.
    ###

    Moon? Crack???

  64. Brian H says:

    Kaboom says:
    November 3, 2011 at 5:11 am

    Must be lots of fresh ice forming inland to push out that glacier.

    and

    Scarlet Pumpernickel says:
    November 3, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Even if the glacier was growing it would be cracking

    Kaboom nailed it. Scarlet, ONLY if the glacier was growing. That’s the sign of more ice squeezing out from the interior. A shrinking glacier quietly melts away, and the face recedes as liquid water drains away.

  65. u.k.(us) says:

    It is new and fascinating to watch, and I could do it all day long, as long as it is not somehow being blamed on my…….. transgressions.
    Alas, fascination with our natural world is being subverted into some kind of weird guilt trip, where the mere entry into Nature’s realm is frowned upon.
    By people that have never experienced its ……….uncaring, relentless pursuit of equilibrium.

  66. Biddyb says:

    ‘ It is likely that once the iceberg floats away, the leading edge of the ice shelf will have receded farther than at any time since its location was first recorded in the 1940s.’

    Is it just me, or does saying that the leading edge will have “receded” not seem a little incorrect?It hasn’t really “receded” i.e. shrunk/melted, it has broken off as part of a natural process due to gravity and, presumably, more ice pushing it along.

    The cynics amongst us all can just picture the emotive headline involving the use of the word receded.

  67. jerry says:

    Frickin’ carbon, man.

  68. Zac says:

    By the way, why does the article feel the need to convert all measurements into Euros?

  69. Ray the Ratbag says:

    Ray the Ratbag

    To follow up on the seismic tremor comment. I would suggest that it would certainly have affected the crack to some extent. Recently had the experience of a large (7.2) shake off Alaska on board the MV Orion (expedition ship) from only 26nm away. It rattled the ship noisily for a sustained period, even though we were in 500m of water. So would almost certainly (depending on magnitude and distance) affect the spread of the ice crack as shown in the videos and photos.

  70. Ray the Ratbag says:

    Correction to the last. Use Ray the Ratbag as published name please

    [Reply: WordPress allows you to add nicknames. Please do it that way, because it's not practical for us to change your name every time. ~dbs, mod.]

  71. Jeremy says:

    There’s a fossil that’s trapped in a high cliff wall
    There’s a dead salmon frozen in a waterfall
    There’s a blue whale beached by a springtide’s ebb
    There’s a butterfly trapped in a spider’s web

    There’s a red fox torn by a huntsman’s pack
    There’s an antarctic sheet with a giant crack
    There’s a little black spot on the sun today
    It’s the same old thing as yesterday

    Is James Hansen’s soul up there?

  72. tarpon says:

    Obama says space is too expensive. Let the Commies do space.

  73. SteveSadlov says:

    Anyone with even a half arsed academic and practical knowledge of materials and / or earth sciences can tell from one look at the photo that the root cause is stress and strain, not some sort of “melting” event. “Ice tectonics” in other words.

  74. You guys all claim to represent “sound science”, yet you don’t give science much respect that doesn’t directly apply to your claims. I love space, but there’s more to science than just rockets and global warming. Just because it doesn’t interest you doesn’t mean its not important.

  75. ^I hate how NASA isn’t getting enough money for space exploration, but degrading other areas of science isn’t going to help

  76. Umm –

    wouldn’t the melting iceberg need a huge amount of heat for the transition from ice to liquid water which it would draw from the ocean around it, and hence COOL the waters surrounding it substantially…?

  77. Zac says:
    November 3, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    By the way, why does the article feel the need to convert all measurements into Euros?
    —————————————————————————————————————–

    Because the “european” metrics have become the metering standard in science long since.

    Welcome to the 21st Century, my friend.

  78. J.H. says:

    Occupy the Ice Berg now!!!!

  79. TLM says:

    Zac says:
    November 3, 2011 at 7:02 am
    As well as the “Wales” (Wa), a smaller and more useful MSM unit of measurement used in the UK, the “Isle of Wight” (IoW). This is a small island off the south coast of England that is a short ferry ride from Southampton and Portsmouth that has just three small centres of population (Newport, Ryde and Cowes) and a lot of nice beaches near the villages of Sandown, Shanklin and Ventnor.

    1 Wa = 54 IoW. The new iceberg is roughly 2.3 IoW so not actually that big in the whole scheme of things. An IoW in the UK is used in much the same way as a “Martha’s Vinyard” (MV) in the US although it is slightly bigger (1 IoW = 1.6 MV).

    This stuff even has a conversion web site, although it does not use the IoW.
    http://www.simonkelk.co.uk/sizeofwales.html

  80. bushbunny says:

    WHAT’S NEW. GEE SEVERAL YEARS AGO, A HUGE SLICE OF SEA ICE BROKE OFF IN ANTARCTICA THAT WAS 150 KMS LONG. Because another ice berg bashed into it. This recent happening is not new. In the former one, no sea alerts were issued to shipping around New Zealand. Not climate change, just natural – and don’t worry. Also, Antarctica is subject to seismic
    activity, and also there are active volcanoes near by on Herd Island. (Australian territory)

  81. Ulrich Elkmann says:

    G. Karst says:
    November 3, 2011 at 7:51 am
    I particularly liked the following line from wiki:

    “their wind god is actually just a wind bag; that is to say, he’s just another lying, deceiving, untrustworthy member of the species homo sapiens”

    Sound like anybody we know, GK?

    Yes. The Wizard of Oz. In the Emerald City. Where everything looks GREEN…

  82. Baloun James says:

    @ Robert Bertino,
    I cannot see much scientific discussion at all in these comments. Mostly reactionary hyperbole; and most of the hype is in response to previous hype until hysteria has taken hold.
    A scientific theory may be shown false by a few observations. The anti-global-warming hysteria seems to need to disprove the theory thousands of times and pat themselves on the back over and over.

    The science is, and always was simple: either the average global temperature is rising, staying the same, or falling. The original theory was just that, a theory. If anyone made absolute statements beyond they theory they were making political statements, not scientific. All this snide arm-chair froth has become mindless, is just more politics, and only adds to the confusion.

    The pursuit of science has not changed. Theories are posited and wait to be either improved or disproved. All the global-warming worst-case warning and anti-global-warming hysteria is political dross.

    The tendency to bash the real science in the haste to shout down the politics is counter-productive.

    The blogger himself seems to have transformed skepticism into an agenda. Lets get back to the science shall we?

  83. This may come as a shock to many, but during an Interglacial Warmup, such as, the one we are in that is 10,500 years old and near it’s very end, glaciers continue to melt!

  84. bushbunny says:

    Charles at Nov.4 10.57 am. The glaciers, are they breaking up, that is normal or melting? Or are they just sea ice, there’s a distinct difference, as you know. Land glaciers or sea ice.

  85. Brian H says:

    bushbunny, see my comment above. Glaciers don’t “break up” when they recede. They just melt and drain.

  86. Panache says:

    As someone who is ignorant of geology and science to this degree, really what does it mean? A 1/3 of Antartica may break away? It sounds terrible but is it? Reading the posted comments, it seems like people are point scoring and using poor sarcasm rather than fact. When will the scientific community accept that some of ‘us’ unscientific people just want a bit of straight talking rather than seemingly pointless speculation that results in irrational fear or irrational complacency. If anyone feels confident in doing so, please respond in a straight talking, unpretentious and yet unpatronising manner. It would make a most refreshing change if supported with fact. I am yet to have my faith in Science restored even though I am passionate about my planet.

  87. Brian H says:

    Panache;
    Say what? 1/3 of Antarctica? Where did you hallucinate that?
    Not 1/3 of 1/3 of 1/3 of 1/3 of 1/3 of 1/3 of 1/3 of 1/3 of 1/3 of Antarctica’s ice. You can relax.

  88. bushbunny says:

    Science? My Irish second cousin in the Irish Navy was commissioned I think about 10 years ago, to take a group of university people to Antarctica. They docked somewhere, and took pictures of big lumps of ice floating near the harbour. His mum said this was evidence of global warming?

    OK no Irish jokes. But she was sincere when she told us that they had floods after heavy rain.
    Actually Cork did have bad floods, because they released water from their dam after heavy rain.
    to stop it breaching without warning people. Climate change they said as an excuse. Fair Dinkum! If I recall correctly a US navy submarine attempted a submerged crossing under the Arctic ice and had terrible trouble finding spaces to surface. I don’t think some warmists understand that the Arctic circle and Antarctica are subjected to months of darkness in winter, and months of sunshine in their summer months. Even in the Hebrides they boast about having
    22 hours of sunlight during their summer, but forget they have equal amounts of darkness in their winter. AH well, that’s just basic geography I suspect. Well even I knew that at high school in UK.

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