Sentinel satellite captures birth of behemoth iceberg
12 July 2017
Over the last few months, a chunk of Antarctica's Larsen C ice shelf has been hanging on precariously as a deep crack cut across the ice. Witnessed by the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission, a lump of ice more than twice the size of Luxembourg has now broken off, spawning one of the largest icebergs on record and changing the outline of the Antarctic Peninsula forever.
The fissure first appeared several years ago, but seemed relatively stable until January 2016, when it began to lengthen.
In January 2017 alone it travelled 20km, reaching a total length of about 175km.
After a few weeks of calm, the rift propagated a further 16km at the end of May, and then extended further at the end of June.
More importantly, as the crack grew, it branched off towards the edge of the shelf, whereas before it had been running parallel to the Weddell Sea.
With just a few km between the end of the fissure and the ocean by early July, the fate of the shelf was sealed.
Top story on Copernicus
06 July 2017
With the Copernicus Sentinel-3A satellite fully fledged and its data freely available, the task of monitoring and understanding our changing planet has been made that much easier. Seeing the effect spring has on our plant life is just one of its many uses.
Launched in February 2016 and carrying a suite of instruments, Sentinel-3 is the most complex of all the Sentinel missions.
Browse to other Sites