NASA satellite spots shattered iceberg beneath Antarctica’s midnight sun

Not long after separating from the Pine Island Glacier, the B-44 iceberg fragmented into more than 20 pieces. Photo by NASA

Dec. 30 (UPI) — A newly released NASA image showcases the fragmented state of iceberg B-44, glistening in the midnight sun of Antarctica.

B-44 is the berg that calved from Pine Island Glacier in September. Pine Island Glacier is one of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet’s main outflows. B-44 was the second major fragment to separate from the glacier in the last several years. The first calving occurred in 2015.

Analysis suggests the ice sheet and its glaciers are breaking apart from the inside out as warming ocean water weakens the coastal ice shelf from beneath.

Scientists believe an unusually warm pocket of water also explains the rapid breakup of B-44, which shattered into more than 20 fragments shortly after its separation from the glacier. The warm water, known as a polyna, has prevented the water between the fragments from freezing.

Researchers believe the B-44 berg is more than 1,000-feet thick, but only 160 feet of the ice extends above the ocean surface.

NASA’s Landsat 8 Earth-orbiting satellite photographed the fragmented iceberg on Dec. 15 at around midnight local time. During the winter in the Arctic, the sun never dips below the horizon line.

NASA shared the new image of the iceberg on Friday.


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