Colours in addition show the flow speed. Breakup Week. If you examine the MODIS imagery are you sure about the July 2013 calving date, no separation occurred until November 2013? 12. In mid-October 2011, NASA scientists working in Antarctica discovered a massive crack across the Pine Island Glacier, a major ice stream that drains the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Free online lecture: The Glaciers are melting: What happens next? Releasing a huge iceberg, by itself, is a normal process, unrelated to warming, but increased calving may occur in the future if the ice shelf continues to thin, which would make it susceptible to plate bending and hydrofracture processes21. 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. As anticipated, Pine Island Glacier, known as PIG for short, in Antarctica has just spawned a huge iceberg. Mass balance of the Antarctic ice sheet from 1992 to 2017, Pine Island Glacier: the longer term view, difficult to assess how soon a collapse of Pine Island Glacier could occur, Antarctica’s contribution to global sea level rise, http://glacierchange.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/pine-island-glacier-2013-iceberg-rift-update/, http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/11/is-pine-island-glacier-the-weak-underbelly-of-the-west-antarctic-ice-sheet/, Calculating glacier ice volumes and sea level equivalents. That is significant because the Thwaites, along with the Pine Island Glacier and a number of smaller glaciers, acts as a brake on part of the much larger West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Pritchard, H.D., Ligtenberg, S.R.M., Fricker, H.A., Vaughan, D.G., van den Broeke, M.R. West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapse – the fall and rise of a paradigm. However, scientists have several ingenious ways in which they can observe changes to this fragile, important ice stream. Editor’s Note: Earth Observatory would like to thank the following scientists for help with image interpretation: Eric Rignot/JPL, Robert Bindschadler/NASA GSFC (emeritus), Christopher Shuman, UMBC/NASA GSFC, and Chris Readinger/U.S. And well, actually, that’s it in the fun department. The image above shows the iceberg on November 11, 2001. 22. PIG) The area of the iceberg poised to calve off the Pine Island Glacier is about 115 square miles, or 300 square kilometers. It’s a dangerous business; several iterations of Autosub have been lost under the ice. Do we want that? Finally, scientists on board ships have deployed ‘Autosub’ beneath the very ice shelf, to make observations where no man can go. Notice that there are times when the front appears to stay in the same place or even advance, though the overall trend is toward retreat. “This underlies our concern that retreating outlet glaciers can ‘shrink’ rapidly,” Bindschadler said. The first reference to this being the weak underbelly is Hughes (1981). It seems that the glacier is capable of very rapid recession within millennial timescales27, and that the dynamics between ice shelf and ice stream are intrinsically linked. 18. And well, actually, that’s it in the fun department. West Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier (PIG) is the fastest-melting glacier in Antarctica, making it the single biggest contributor to global sea-level rise. Gladstone, R.M., Lee, V., Rougier, J., Payne, A.J., Hellmer, H., Le Brocq, A., Shepherd, A., Edwards, T.L., Gregory, J. Pine Island Glacier ice shelf periodically calves huge icebergs. Low lying cloud often makes flying hazardous. The ice stream is steepening, which increases the gravitational driving stress, helping it to flow faster, and there is no indication that the glacier is approaching a steady state10. On September 28, 2017, the OLI on Landsat 8 acquired this image of the recently calved Iceberg B-44. The catchments of Pine Island Glacier and Thwaites Glacier in the Amundsen Sea Embayment are two of the largest, most rapidly changing, and potentially unstable sectors of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. At the Last Glacial Maximum, circa 18,000 years ago, the ice stream was at the continental shelf edge27. It calved a large iceberg in 2001, and in 2011 a huge rift developed on the ice shelf. B-35 had drifted farther from the ice front. Pine Island Glacier flows at rates of up to 4000 m per year2. Pine Island Glacier has contributed more to sea-level rise over the past decades than any other glacier in Antarctica. These data suggest that the recession of this ice stream was largely controlled by sea level rise, with a 55 m in sea level rise during deglaciation resulting in 225 km of grounding-line recession26. 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. Earth Matters: A Little More on That Ice Rift in Antarctica…. & Scheuchl, B. For example, data collected during science flights in 2009 led researchers to discover a deep-water channel (map below) that could funnel warm water to the glacier’s underbelly and melt it from below. 2008, you can see that mass losses from Pine Island Glacier and Thwaites Glacier dominate Antarctic Ice Sheet ice losses. 12-17-12 Progress on the Pine Island Glacier Field Experiment. Ice Flow of the Antarctic Ice Sheet. Scientists often use radar and thermal imagery to get a better look under these less-optimal conditions. NASA Earth Observatory map by Lauren Dauphin, using Reference Elevation Model of Antarctica (REMA) data from the Polar Geospatial Center at the University of Minnesota. 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. Jacobs, S.S., Jenkins, A., Giulivi, C.F. NASA Earth Observatory map by Jesse Allen, based on a model by Michael Studinger of NASA IceBridge and gravity data from Columbia University. 24. Vaughan, D.G. 14. While this outlet glacier is just one of many around the perimeter of Antarctica, data collected from the ground, air, and space confirm that Pine Island is worth extra attention. 27. "The Pine Island glacier recently spawned an iceberg over (115 square miles) that very quickly shattered into pieces," the European Space Agency (ESA) said in a statement.. Flight Center, NASA Earth Observatory (2012, February 29). You can use Google Earth below to explore the ice stream. NASA Earth Observatory animation by Lauren Dauphin, using MODIS data from NASA EOSDIS/LANCE and GIBS/Worldview. 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). February 11–15. Last month, scientists also recorded unusually warm water beneath the Thwaites Glacier, a neighbour to Pine Island. Go to top or jump to Marine Ice Sheet Instability. From 12300 to 10600 years ago, there was a large ice shelf throughout the Amundsen Sea Embayment. Jakobsson, M., Anderson, J.B., Nitsche, F.O., Dowdeswell, J.A., Gyllencreutz, R., Kirchner, N., Mohammed, R., O’Regan, M., Alley, R.B., Andandakrishnan, S., Eriksson, B., Kirshner, A., Fernandez, R., Stolldorf, T., Minzoni, R. & Majewski, W. Geological record of ice shelf break-up and grounding line retreat, Pine Island Bay, West Antarctica. It remains difficult to assess how soon a collapse of Pine Island Glacier could occur, but a new paper by Bamber and Aspinall (2013) suggest that there is a growing view that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet could become unstable over the next 100 years16. A rift in the glacier first became visible on September 10, 2000, in images from NASA’s new Terra satellite, but the cracking probably started in the darkness of austral winter. Nature Geosci 1, 106-110 (2008). When IceBridge scientists returned to Pine Island Glacier in October of 2012, the rift had widened and was joined by a second crack first spotted that May. Geophysical Research Letters 31, L18402 (2004). Nature 484, 502-505 (2012). (It is possible that the calving occurred one day prior, but clouds prevented a clear look.) The image above shows a clear view from October 15, 2007. More recently, calving has occurred on a near-annual basis and the bergs tend to break up more easily into smaller pieces. It is important that we take a longer-term perspective of the current changes observed on Pine Island Glacier. But over the long term at Pine Island, you can see that the ice front has retreated inland, which means the calving rate has increased more than the glacier has accelerated. The velocity is well above that required to maintain mass balance – so the ice stretches longitudinally, and thins vertically3. And it's a … NASA Goddard Space Pinpointing the exact birthdate of icebergs using natural color images can be a challenge. 26. & Vaughan, D.G. & Padman, L. Antarctic ice-sheet loss driven by basal melting of ice shelves. Can you identify the ice shelf? Decline of West Antarctic Glaciers Appears Irreversible. by Shaena Montanari February 11, 2019. 9. Wingham, D.J., Wallis, D.W. & Shepherd, A. Spatial and temporal evolution of Pine Island Glacier thinning, 1995-2006. NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey. It is remote from any research bases, so flying there means making multiple short flights, making fuel depots to allow scientists to hop to the location. Pine Island Glacier is a cause for concern, because it’s thinning rapidly, steepening, accelerating and receding. It tweeted for awhile. 5. You can also see how the surface of both the ice stream and ice shelf is heavily crevassed, making it difficult to walk on the surface of the ice. 2. hence that the ice is breaking of because of water pressure from below. Until this point, large icebergs were calving from Pine Island Glacier every four to six years. Pine Island is one of the largest and fastest-moving glaciers in Antarctica. The Pine Island Glacier ice shelf now has one of the fastest rates of ice-shelf thinning in Antarctica. Pine Island Glacier is one of the most dynamic features of the Antarctic Ice Sheet. The visualization approaches the Pine Island Glacier, dives beneath the water and views the ocean flows circulating beneath the floating ice. Climatic Change 91, 65-79 (2008). The ice front at Pine Island Glacier in a more or less stable position from 1973 to 2014, and then a startling retreat in 2015 through the present. Bamber, J. L., and Aspinall, W. P. (2013). … Lowe, A.L. Some studies have suggested that the entire main trunk of Pine Island Glacier could unground and become afloat within 100 years14, but more recent modelling efforts suggest that much longer timescales are needed to unground the entire trunk2. Rignot, E., Jacobs, S., Mouginot, J. Sensitivity of 21st century sea level to ocean-induced thinning of Pine Island Glacier, Antarctica. Rignot, E., Bamber, J.L., van den Broeke, M.R., Davis, C., Li, Y., van de Berg, W.J. Snow and Ice | Pine Island Glacier ice shelf | Pine Island Glacier: the longer term view | Conclusions | References | Comments |. It is visible here on November 7, 2018, as observed by Landsat 8. This ice stream is unlikely to collapse in our lifetime – but the same cannot be said for future generations. The ice stream is heavily-crevassed and dangerous, so walking on it is difficult. Pine Island Glacier flows at … Uncertainty over the future behaviour of Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica is one of the largest constraints on accurately predicting future sea level rise16. The ice shelf around Pine Island Glacier is currently thinning, and it is warmed from below by Circumpolar Deep Water that flows onto the continental shelf22,23. It can dive to 1600 m and travel 400 km, and it has a clever collision avoidance system. Remote Sensing, Snow and Ice Scott, J.B.T., Gudmundsson, G.H., Smith, A.M., Bingham, R.G., Pritchard, H.D. The images below show how much of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, especially around Pine Island Glacier, is grounded well below sea level. De Angelis, H. & Skvarca, P. Glacier surge after ice shelf collapse. A team of European researchers has monitored the glacier since massive cracks were detected near the age in October 2019. Geophysical Research Letters 37, L20502 (2010). Autosub is a remotely operated vehicle, loaded with sensors that measure temperature, salinity, pressure and so on, and it can map the sea bed using downward-pointing swath bathymetry. These two glaciers have been losing ice over the last 25 years. Decades of investigations have given scientists a better idea of the quirks of PIG’s behavior. At the end of October 2018, the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-1 satellite observed the glacier letting go of a huge chunk of ice. Home » Antarctica » West Antarctic Ice Sheet » Pine Island Glacier, Investigating Pine Island Glacier | Why is Pine Island Glacier important? By Youtube user pikff1. Science (2011). 2. The ice shelf currently loses around 62.3 ± 5 Gigatonnes per year of ice through calving, and loses 101.2 ± 8 Gigatonnes per year through basal melting24. Quaternary Science Reviews 21, 1879-1897 (2002). http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/11/is-pine-island-glacier-the-weak-underbelly-of-the-west-antarctic-ice-sheet/. “This is indicative of a progressive collapse of the ice shelf,” said Eric Rignot, a glaciologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. 4. 28. Science 324, 901-903 (2009). Nature 271, 321-325 (1978). Bathymetric controls on calving processes at Pine Island Glacier. 12-17-12 Progress on the Pine Island Glacier Field Experiment. Measurements from the British Antarctic Survey’s Autosub, the intrepid sub-ice shelf explorer, help scientists understand sub-ice conditions. Inland thinning of Pine Island Glacier, West Antarctica. “The weak underbelly of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet”. (2012) predict recession over the next 200 years with huge uncertainty over the rate of retreat, and full collapse of the trunk of Pine Island Glacier during the 22nd Century remains a possibility15. & Davies, B.J. 16. The Pine Island glacier "is one the fastest-retreating glaciers in Antarctica." Nature Geoscience 4, 519-523 (2011). Before Pine Island Glacier starting shrinking about 8,000 years ago, there was a large ice shelf in the Amundsen Sea Embayment. Are these on-going changes unprecedented, or are they part of the normal behaviour for the glacier? Pine Island Glacier has long been on the radar screen of Antarcticresearchers. Even though the text under the picture says ‘Simplified cartoon of a tributary glacier feeding into an ice shelf’, it is misleading. Increased rate of acceleration on Pine Island Glacier strongly coupled to changes in gravitational driving stress. This ice shelf collapsed after 10600 years ago28, when warmer waters flowed onto the continental shelf. Mercer, J.H. Rott, H., Rack, W., Skvarca, P. & De Angelis, H. Northern Larsen Ice Shelf, Antarctica: further retreat after collapse. Calibrated prediction of Pine Island Glacier retreat during the 21st and 22nd centuries with a coupled flowline model. It rapidly shrank back from around 16,400 years ago, when rising sea levels made this ice stream more buoyant, causing lift-off, decoupling from the ice sheet’s bed, and recession. In the case of bergs from Pine Island Glacier and others that start in the Amundsen and Eastern Ross seas, the names begin with “B”. It’s acronym is PIG. Over the past 8 years, the Pine Island glacier is losing about 58 billion tons of ice per year. Pine Island Glacier, the longest and fastest flowing ice stream in the Antarctic, is now very probably in a headlong, self-sustaining retreat, say scientists. The Pine Island Glacier (a.k.a. Ice-flow modelling studies have shown that it can undergo periods of rapid mass loss, but no study has shown that these future changes could cross a … The Pine Island Glacier is located around 1,600 miles from the tip of South America. It is, along with neighboring Thwaites Glacier, one of the main pathways for ice entering the Amundsen Sea from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and one the fastest-retreating glaciers in Antarctica. The largest contibution to global sea level rise from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets combined is around 16.9 mm per year, but is more likely to be around 5.4 mm per year by 2100. Post-LGM deglaciation in Pine Island Bay, West Antarctica. Pine Island has contributed more to sea level rise over the past four decades than any other glacier in Antarctica, and as a consequence has become one of its most intensively and extensively investigated ice stream systems. Pine Island Glacier could collapse – stagnate and retreat far up into the bay, resulting in rapid sea level rise – within the next few centuries, raising global sea levels by 1.5 m11,12, out of a total of 3.3 m from the entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet13. Rignot, E. Changes in ice dynamics and mass balance of the Antarctic ice sheet. Meltwater production underneath the ice shelf increased by 50% from 1994 to 2011; this increased melting results from stronger sub-ice-shelf circulation. The ice shelf thins, the grounding line retreats and the speed of the glacier increases. Nature Clim. & Anderson, J.B. Reconstruction of the West Antarctic ice sheet in Pine Island Bay during the Last Glacial Maximum and its subsequent retreat history. 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. Autosub have been lost under where is the pine island glacier A1B “ Business as Usual ” emissions scenario the... 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