NASA's Operation IceBridge Spots Huge, Sharp Rectangular Iceberg In Antartica

Posted October 24, 2018

Last year, a giant iceberg the size of DE - named A-68 - broke off from Larsen C, fuelling concerns it could be on the brink of collapse.

"How the berg is formed is speculative given the collisions are not known in much detail, nor is the physical state of the iceberg - many rifts are visible in satellite imagery, many are not yet visible but are forming as the berg responds to its journey", says Shuman.

Senior support scientist Jeremy Harbeck spotted a very sharp-angled, tabular iceberg floating among sea ice just off of the Larsen C ice shelf, and took a photo - which was widely shared after it was posted on social media.

"You can think of the shelf like a bank account", she says.

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In the statement from NASA, Harbeck said he had actually been more interested in capturing the massive A68 iceberg, the size of the USA state of DE, which split off from the Larson C ice shelf in 2017.

They were often geometrically-shaped as a result, she said.

Kelly Brunt, an ice scientist with NASA and the University of Maryland, said such icebergs are fairly common.

But why such straight lines?

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The icebergs' sharp angles and flat surface indicate that they probably recently calved from the ice shelf.

That was not the only shape that scientists spotted last Wednesday. That iceberg measured about 2,300 square miles, as NPR's Geoff Brumfiel reported.

Operation IceBridge's mission is to image the planet's polar regions to better understand how ice has changed and shifted in recent years.

"IceBridge and ICESat-2 both use laser altimeters that fire pulses of light toward the ground and measure how long it takes for that light to bounce off the ice and return to the instruments' sensors", NASA said earlier this month.

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A photo shows a thick block of ice up to a mile long dramatically protruding from a sea of thin frozen water, thought to have recently splintered off. "Scientists can then calculate the distance between the aircraft or the satellite and the ice surface, which gives them the ice height".