A large, miles-long crack was plainly visible across the ice shelf on the Pine Island Glacier during an overflight by NASA's DC-8 airborne science laboratory during an Operation IceBridge flight Oct. 14. A follow-up flight Oct. 26 collected more data on the ice shelf and the crack. The area beyond the crack that could separate from the glacial ice shelf in coming months covers about 310 square miles. (NASA / Michael Studinger) › View Larger Image
Watching the Birth of a Massive Iceberg
Operation IceBridge, the largest airborne environmental science campaign ever to study the dynamics of Earth's polar regions, will be in focus on Thursday, Nov. 3 during a media teleconference between NASA scientists and mission managers and news media representatives. The teleconference is slated for 1 p.m. EDT / 10 a.m. PDT.
From their base of operations in Punta Arenas, Chile -- where this year's observation flights take place – Project Scientist Michael Studinger of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland and Mission Director Walter Klein from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in Southern California will discuss the discovery of a massive crevasse discovered in the Pine Island Glacier Oct. 14 that suggests an enormous iceberg covering more than 300 square miles may soon separate from it. They also will discuss new information from this year's observations and newly visualized data from previous years.
To participate, journalists may call 210-234-8217 or 888-989-9822, using the passcode ICEBRIDGE. Advance media inquiries may be directed to Patrick Lynch, who is on-site in Punta Arenas at email@example.com.
The Fall 2011 Operation IceBridge is currently in progress over Antarctica, with scientists aboard NASA's DC-8 airborne science laboratory and a Gulfstream-V operated by the National Science Foundation and the National Center for Atmospheric Research collecting data from a suite of specialized instruments about the thickness of Antarctic ice on both sea and land and glacial movement. Now in the third year, Operation IceBridge began in 2009 using instruments to map Arctic and Antarctic areas once a year for six years, enhancing scientists' understanding and predictions of how glaciers contribute to global sea level rise.
During recent flights, the DC-8 made a second visit Oct. 30 to the Slessor glacier region adjacent to the Shackleton Mountain Range in Antarctica, a remote area well south of the Weddell Sea that required a long transit from Punta Arenas. However, mission managers reported good weather over the target area, providing excellent conditions to make eight passes during 3.5 hours of data collection over the glacier.
A day earlier, the team made another long-duration science flight over the Recovery Glacier area southeast of the Antarctic peninsula region, with data collected from most of the seven instruments on board during low-level passes some 1,500 feet above ground. After completing all data tracks, the return course was altered to cross all ground tracks at the same altitude until the Cape Recovery ice feature was crossed.
Media advisory about IceBridge media teleconference on Nov. 3.
More on the Ice Bridge mission page