Satellite shows break up of a 30km long iceberg

Envisat has captured the splitting up of the massive A53A iceberg located just east of the South Georgia Island in the southern Atlantic Ocean

A huge fissure was spotted running south to north through the iceberg on 1 March by C-CORE, the Canadian ice-tracking service, while studying satellite images collected from Envisat's Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) instrument using the Polar View monitoring programme.

The radar image indicated the iceberg was unstable and likely to split. Just days afterwards on 4 March, Envisat's Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) sensor captured the break. Both icebergs are estimated to measure around 30km in length.

The break up of A53A, which calved off the Larsen Ice Shelf in late April 2005, occurred in relatively warm waters, making it highly likely that numerous smaller icebergs and ice islands will calve off the two icebergs.

Several different processes can cause an iceberg to form, or 'calve', including deterioration from high temperatures or the sun's radiation, action from winds and waves or a collision with another iceberg.

Image: The break up of the massive A53A iceberg located just east of the South Georgia Island (visible at image bottom) in the southern Atlantic Ocean. Both icebergs are estimated to measure around 30km in length. South Georgia Island is approximately 180km long. [ESA]

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