Watch: Iceberg the Size of Malta Breaks Up
Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica has recently spawned an iceberg over 300 square kilometers (116 square miles) in size. About the size of Malta, the iceberg quickly broke into many pieces.
Images taken on Copernicus Sentinel satellite missions last year showed two large rifts in the glacier. The animation above uses 57 radar images captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission between February 2019 and February 2020 and shows how the cracks grew and led to the calving event. The last frame is from February 10, 2020.
Pine Island Glacier, along with its neighbor Thwaites Glacier, connect the center of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet with the ocean – together discharging significant quantities of ice into the ocean. These two glaciers have been losing ice over the last 25 years.
Since the early 1990s, the Pine Island Glacier’s ice velocity has increased dramatically to values which exceed 10 meters a day. Its floating ice front, which has an average thickness of approximately 500 meters, has experienced a series of calving events over the past 30 years, some of which have abruptly changed the shape and position of the ice front.
These changes have been mapped by European Space Agency-built satellites since the 1990s, with calving events occurring in 1992, 1995, 2001, 2007, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2018, and now 2020.