In this case, it spawned many. Changing atmospheric and oceanic patterns are sweeping warm deep waters towards the floating ice shelves of Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers. In February 2020, NASA Earth observing satellites observed the Pine Island Glacier producing new icebergs. While large calving events used to occur at Pine Island Glacier every four to six years, they've now become a near-annual occurrence, according to NASA. Experts there blamed the fracture on a strong general warming trend and temperatures that have been “incredibly” high in the northeast of Greenland in recent years. Like this: Photo: Pierre Markuse (Pierre Markuse) ... Pine Island Glacier is nominally a fun glacier, or at least as fun as a chunk of ice that could collapse and inundate millions of coastal homes can be. An iceberg has broken off Pine Island Glacier (PIG) on the edge of Antarctica, according to satellite images taken Tuesday by the European Space Agency (ESA). Date: February 11, 2020 Author: adrianluckman. At the same time, and for the same reason, the glaciers themselves began to flow outward faster. Your email address is used only to let the recipient know who sent the email. The Pine Island Glacier is one of the fastest-retreating glaciers in Antarctica, and along with the Thwaites Glacier nearby, it’s a subject of close scientific monitoring to … The Pine Island Glacier (PIG) is located about 1,600 miles on the edge of West Antarctica and is known to be the fastest shrinking glacier of the continent. The 79 North glacier still has a major ice shelf, as do some of Greenland’s other northernmost glaciers, but many of these have lost considerable size in recent decades. And it's a … “[A] warming ocean thinned the ice shelves, this reduced buttressing, this let the non-floating ice move faster, contributing some to sea-level rise and also starting to break the sides of the ice shelves, but additional acceleration could occur if the rest of the steps (further fracture and ice-shelf loss) should occur.”. In a waiting game that spanned several months of 2019 and 2020, scientists watched cracks grow across the tongue of Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier. In these places, the ice frequently crumples and contorts, a visible indication of the powerful stresses that it is under. Although major ice shelf collapse is unlikely to occur in the coming years, we are seeing the processes speed up, so it might be a matter of decades, explained Wouters. The resulting forces led the shear-margin ice to break into pieces — which means that the glacier, less constrained, will now be able to add ice to the ocean even faster. As they flow over the water, these shelves freeze onto mountainsides and islands and anchor themselves to bumps in the seafloor. For the Pine Island Glacier, the new study finds that while the cracking and fraying at the shear margin dates to 1999, it accelerated in 2016. This is rendering the ice shelves unstable, paving the way for large calving events while also reducing the shelf's ability to hold back the outflowing glacier. Images were acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite from 2000 to 2019. Pine Island Glacier, in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, has an area of 175,000 square kilometres and loses about 45 billion tons of ice each year. Satellites observed a huge calving event that caused unprecedented retreat of the ice shelf, further destabilizing it. A new study into the structural damage of two major Antarctic glaciers reveals that ice shelf weakening has rapidly evolved in recent years. The fastest-changing outlet glaciers in the region, they account for Antarctica's largest contribution to global sea level rise. It was mapped by the United States Geological Survey from surveys and United States Navy air photos, 1960–66, and named by the Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names in association with Pine Island Bay. (Courtesy of NASA) This month, an iceberg nearly the size of Atlanta broke off in Antarctica. O'Reilly reminds us that these changes will affect coastal communities, livelihoods and ecosystems globally. It’s acronym is PIG. ... fear has driven a big push by international teams of researchers to understand what’s going on at Thwaites and nearby Pine Island Glacier. The study results reveal that since 2016, damage in the shear zone of Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers has rapidly developed. ESA The Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica is known as "PIG" for short. The glacier ice streams flow west-northwest along the south side of the Hudson Mountains into Pine Island Bay, Amundsen Sea, Antarctica. But when those stresses become too much, ice breaks. In other words, an area about the size of Los Angeles has been lost. In West Antarctica, Pine Island Glacier and Thwaites Glacier have been melting at alarming rates, according to satellite imagery over the ice continent. O'Reilly, who has been following the study of Antarctic glaciology since 2008, tells that great progress has been made in understanding these glaciers. Pine Island Glacier: Satellite animation mid-2017 to Feb-2020. By Tom Metcalfe. By signing up you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. If the ice shelves of these two glaciers collapse, it could trigger large-scale disintegration of the nearby West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which holds enough ice to raise global sea level by about 10 feet. "These are the two key glaciers in West Antarctica that will define global sea level over the coming decades," Wouters told GlacierHub. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no September 14, 2020 at 3:03 PM EDT. and Terms of Use. Copernicus Sentinel data (2020), processed by ESA, By Alfredo Carpineti 13 Feb 2020, 18:14. Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier is one of the most closely watched pieces of ice on Earth. Scientists have anticipated for at least 20 years that these glaciers will be the first to respond to climate change, Jessica O'Reilly, an environmental anthropologist at Indiana University, told GlacierHub. ... Nov 25, 2020… "At some point we may reach a point of no return, where collapse will be unstoppable. ESA's Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellite snapped this view of cracks in the Pine Island Glacier on Sept. 14, 2019. ... New iceberg calving from the Pine Island Glacier (Antarctica) in February 2020… The shear zone is located where the glacier meets the ice shelf, which acts as a braking system that slows the downstream flow of the glaciers towards the sea. Neither your address nor the recipient's address will be used for any other purpose. You can be assured our editors closely monitor every feedback sent and will take appropriate actions. These glaciers are the gateway to the continent, and therefore rapidly developing damage to the barrier that is stopping the ice sheet from sliding into the ocean is a critical concern for scientists. Plans for International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration in response to COVID-19 June 11, 2020 From the ITGC New Sights in the Second Field Season of the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration … If a similar process plays out in the Amundsen Sea of West Antarctica, where Pine Island and Thwaites are, the sea-level consequences could be enormous. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Privacy Policy The information you enter will appear in your e-mail message and is not retained by Phys.org in any form. But they're not the only ones who should be worried. Surface ice topography is from CryoSat -2 altimetry ( Slater et al., 2018 ). As anticipated, Pine Island Glacier, known as PIG for short, in Antarctica has just spawned a huge iceberg. Satellite imagery shows that for Pine Island, the south shear zone has been torn apart and fragmented, and for Thwaites, damage is accelerating upstream in its shear zone. The glaciers’ “shear margins,” where their floating ice shelves encounter high levels of friction that constrain the natural flow of ice, are progressively weakening and in some cases breaking into pieces. Bedrock geometry for the Pine Island Glacier domain is a combination of the R -Topo2 dataset ( Schaffer et al., 2016) and, where available, an updated bathymetry of the Amundsen Sea Embayment ( Millan et al., 2014). This image shows two cracks in the Pine Island Glacier seen by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellite on September 14, … Medical Xpress covers all medical research advances and health news, Tech Xplore covers the latest engineering, electronics and technology advances, Science X Network offers the most comprehensive sci-tech news coverage on the web. The animation at the top of this page shows a wide view of Pine Island Glacier (PIG) and the long-term retreat of its ice front. This story is republished courtesy of Earth Institute, Columbia University http://blogs.ei.columbia.edu. “The new paper shows that the Amundsen Sea Embayment ice shelves have gone through most, but not all, of the Jakobshavn steps,” Alley said in an email. “We already knew that these were glaciers that might matter in the future, but these images to me indicate that these ice shelves are in a very bad state,” Lhermitte said. Sep. 14, 2020 — West Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier and Thwaites Glacier have been undergoing rapid changes, with potentially major consequences for … This puzzling means a lot of exciting, innovative approaches to learning about the glaciers has emerged.". They show that a naturally occurring buffer system that prevents the glaciers from flowing outward rapidly is breaking down, potentially unleashing far more ice into the sea in coming years. 5G and future 6G terahertz absorbed by water vapour = heating? A new animation of Pine Island Glacier calving events in Antarctica demonstrates the immense power of nature. Lhermitte provided calculations showing that over the past six years, the western and central parts of the Pine Island ice shelf have shrunk by about 30 percent, from about 1,500 square miles down to closer to 1,000 square miles. Do equations for groundwater flow refer to water density? Alley noted that the processes playing out in Antarctica appear to have already reached their completion in parts of Greenland, where one of the largest glaciers, Jakobshavn, no longer has any significant ice shelf at all. The shattered Iceberg at Pine Island Glacier, Antarctica on February 11, 2020. An iceberg twice the size of Washington, D.C., has broken off the Pine Island glacier in Antarctica, scientists reported this week. A significant challenge across climate science is to distinguish natural ice behavior from variability caused by human influence, confirms O'Reilly. Here’s a video based on images from the European Space Agency’s Sentinel satellite, showing the changes in the past four years: Even more concerning is the Thwaites Glacier. Researchers monitoring satellite imagery of the Pine Island Glacier (PIG), in west Antarctica, first noticed two large rifts forming in the shelf in 2019. "Teams of scientists have been puzzling over these glaciers since the middle of the last century. The Pine Island Glacier is one of those that shrink at an impressive speed, and an iceberg broke off recently, proving that the trend continues to become more intense. A team of European researchers has monitored the glacier since massive cracks were detected near the age in October 2019. In this way, the shelves provide a braking mechanism on the natural outward flow of ice. Monster calving events … Reporter covering climate change, energy and the environment. Pine Island Glacier flows at rates of up to 4000 m per year 2. The survival of Thwaites has been deemed so critical that the United States and Britain have launched a targeted multimillion-dollar research mission to the glacier. Pine Island Glacier is of interest to scientists because it is changing rapidly; it is thinning, accelerating and receding 3, all of which contribute directly to sea level, and its future under a warming climate is uncertain. This document is subject to copyright. It’s just the latest in a flurry of bad news about the planet’s ice. Melting from below is making the overlying ice shelf even more brittle and thus susceptible to further shearing and fracturing. Located along the coast of the Amundsen Sea in West Antarctica, the enormous Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers already contribute around 5 percent of global sea-level rise. Perilously, Pine Island Glacier experienced yet another monster iceberg calving event February 2020 the size of a U.S. state. Although satellite images have long been used as a tool for studying these glaciers, the significance of this study is that the damage now observed is setting up further, and potentially catastrophic, ice loss in Antarctica. Due to the resistive forces and stresses, ice breaks in this zone where the two meet, as seen in the image above. Antarctica: Cracks in the ice Date: September 14, 2020 Source: Delft University of Technology Summary: West Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier and Thwaites Glacier … or, by Lily Roberts, Earth Institute at Columbia University. “This shear margin is so damaged we think it preconditions this ice shelf for destabilization on the longer term,” Lhermitte said. Pine Island Glacier is a large ice stream, and the fastest melting glacier in Antarctica, responsible for about 25% of Antarctica's ice loss. Adrian Luckman, a satellite imaging glaciologist, produced the GIF that shows not one, but three Antarctic calving events occurring between June 2017 and February 2020. This collapse, in turn, reduces the glaciers' ability to hold back major sections of the entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet from running into the ocean. Feb. 19, 2020, 11:58 AM PST. Ice shelves are vast floating platforms that extend across the surface of the ocean at the outer edge of marine-based glaciers. Once you remove the ice shelves, there is no way of stopping the mass loss of Antarctica," Wouters told GlacierHub. You are welcome to download or copy this animated GIF. In one of the fastest-changing areas of the Antarctic ice sheet, satellites have captured the formation of a giant, 300-square-kilometre iceberg. “The speed-up increases damage, a positive feedback which is not good news.”. At the same time, the glaciers have been increasing in downslope velocity, which in turn initiates further shearing and fracturing. Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers are endangered, and the current damage is almost impossible to heal. While many of the images have been seen before, the new analysis suggests that they are a sign of further disintegration to come. As anticipated, Pine Island Glacier, known as PIG for short, in Antarctica has just spawned a huge iceberg. Your feedback will go directly to Science X editors. Arctic sea ice is very close to — but likely to not quite reach — a record low for this time of year. Furthermore, these glaciers are sitting on reverse bed slopes. The calving event is not unusual for this glacier. “These are the first signs we see that Pine Island ice shelf is disappearing. Get weekly and/or daily updates delivered to your inbox. googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1449240174198-2'); }); Pine Island Glacier and Thwaites Glacier are located in the Amundsen Sea Embayment. Fracturing in the shear zone structurally weakens the ice front. Updated animation showing the last three calving events as seen by ESA’s Sentinel-1 synthetic aperture radar. It was always a matter of when, not if, the glacier would spawn a new iceberg. Despite the significance of the new results, Wouters warns that there are still a lot of unknowns. "We keep finding new processes and feedbacks, so there might be others that we are not aware of yet, and those that we know about we don't fully understand yet, nor are these feedbacks incorporated into models.". That’s what’s now happening in West Antarctica, the new research argues, suggesting that warm ocean water has thinned the ice shelves out enough from below that they became brittle. Elephants found to have the highest volume of daily water loss ever recorded in a land animal, Sediment cores from Dogger Littoral suggest Dogger Island survived ancient tsunami, Study of river otters near oilsands operations shows reduced baculum strength, A possible way to measure ancient rate of cosmic ray strikes using 'paleo-detectors', Thermonuclear type-I X-ray bursts detected from MAXI J1807+132. The waiting ended on February 9, 2020, when radar images from the Sentinel-1 satellites showed numerous icebergs detaching from the glacier and … Study co-author Bert Wouters told GlacierHub that without ocean warming, we would not be seeing the changes and processes we are observing. In February 2020, a large rift developed across Pine Island's shelf due to damage in the shear zone. This means once the glaciers start retreating, they will retreat further and further in a positive feedback loop. This site uses cookies to assist with navigation, analyse your use of our services, and provide content from third parties. ... For the Pine Island Glacier, the new study finds that while the cracking and fraying at the shear margin dates to 1999, it accelerated in 2016. “The stresses that slow down the glacier, they are no longer in place, so the glacier is speeding up,” said Stef Lhermitte, a satellite expert at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands who led the new research along with colleagues from NASA and other research institutions in France, Belgium, Austria and the Netherlands. The glaciers provide a natural buffering system that is holding back the enormous ice sheet upstream, but if structural damage is weakening the ice shelves, rapid outflow into the ocean could occur in the coming years. You can unsubscribe at any time and we'll never share your details to third parties. Your opinions are important to us. Multiple ice-shelf collapses have already been seen in Canada, Greenland and the warmer Antarctic Peninsula, where the onetime Larsen A and Larsen B ice shelves fractured and, today, no longer exist. Sif Island is an island in Pine Island Bay of the Amundsen Sea, in Antarctica.It is 1,150 feet (350 m) long and made of volcanic granite, although it is mostly covered in ice. “When the ice shelves are damaged by climate change, as we saw in the Antarctic Peninsula in the last several decades, their buttressing effect is reduced and the ice streams speed up and raise sea levels,” said Isabella Velicogna, a glaciologist at the University of California at Irvine, commenting on the new study. Satellite observations of the Pine Island Glacier, often shortened to PIG, show a … If the new predictions for further destabilization and ice loss prove to be accurate, the implications for sea level rise are likely to be severe. And in Greenland, the largest still-intact ice shelf in the Northern Hemisphere, sometimes known as 79 North because of its latitude (its full name is Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden), just lost a large chunk of ice, equivalent in size to roughly two Manhattan islands, according to the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland. Here, again, the breakdown of the shear margin has increased in recent years: “This is important work,” Richard Alley, a glaciologist at Pennsylvania State University, said of the new study. Multi-satellite imagery identified damage areas, sparking concerns that structural weakening could lead to major ice shelf collapse in the decades to come. We do not guarantee individual replies due to extremely high volume of correspondence. When it lost that shelf around the year 2000, Jakobshavn’s rate of ice loss steeply increased. Last month, Canada lost a large portion of its last major Arctic ice shelf. 09.14.2020 03:29 PM. This damage is difficult to heal.”. Thank you for taking your time to send in your valued opinion to Science X editors. The content is provided for information purposes only. Mw7.0 Greek islands off the coast of western Turkey, Meridional Heat Transfer - Ocean and Atmosphere, Today's Climate Change and the Permian-Triassic Boundary, Question about world average temperatures 1880- early 20th century, Science X Daily and the Weekly Email Newsletter are free features that allow you to receive your favorite sci-tech news updates in your email inbox. In February 2020, a large rift developed across Pine Island's shelf due to damage in the shear zone. Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica spawns new iceberg on February 11, 2020. The loss of the glacier could trigger the broader collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet, which contains enough ice to eventually raise seas by about 10 feet. Notice that there are times when the front appears to stay in the same place or even advance, though the overall trend is toward … Two Antarctic glaciers that have long kept scientists awake at night are breaking free from the restraints that have hemmed them in, increasing the threat of large-scale sea-level rise. Iceberg twice the size of Washington, D.C., cleaves off Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica, in a sign of warming By Andrew Freedman Washington Post, February 10, 2020, 5:53 p.m. Email to a Friend Wednesday, February 12, 2020, By Madeleine Stone. part may be reproduced without the written permission. Parallel crevasses have formed perpendicular to the direction of flow, tearing apart the ice. The most important news stories of the day, curated by Post editors and delivered every morning. Pine Island Glacier is located in West Antarctica, has shed yet another major iceberg. The buttressing effect occurs in the shear margins, where faster-flowing ice meets ice that is more static and stable, often because it is moored to some part of the landscape. However, the rapid changes to Pine Island and Thwaites Glaciers have been clearly connected to anthropogenic climate change. "The Pine Island glacier … The new findings, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, come from analysis of satellite images. 85 19 83 ). Adding to the concerns for these glaciers, warmer ocean waters in the Amundsen Sea is melting the ice shelf from below. Click here to sign in with To Science X editors good news. ” increasing in downslope velocity, which in turn initiates further shearing and.. The water, these glaciers, warmer ocean waters in the Proceedings of the images have been before... Means a lot of unknowns initiates further shearing and fracturing the longer term ”. 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