Cracking under pressure?

Photo by darijus |

A recent NASA plane mission, termed “Operation Ice Bridge”, has discovered a huge crack forming in the Antarctic glacier. The NASA plane was able to capture detailed measurements of the glacier for the first time ever. The data that was collected from these airborne acquired measurements indicate that the Antarctic glacier is breaking up.

NASA’s operation ice bridge is a six-year mission aiming to gather enough information to form a detailed three-dimensional view of the Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets and sea ice. When these ice sheets break apart in a phenomenon known as calving, icebergs are born. The main goal of this project was to acquire accurate data about the behavior of ice sheets and glaciers to observe how they change over time.  

This new information is providing us with information to give us the ability to predict a rise in sea levels. Data collected from this operation can assist researchers in creating models and predicting rising sea levels in order to caution and potentially prevent disaster.  It was recently observed that one of the world’s most unstable glaciers, named Pine Island Glacier, is one of the largest sources of uncertainty. This glacier alone has the ability to trigger a global sea level rise.

It is expected that with global warming, breakages of glaciers will occur and calving will occur more frequently, resulting in more icebergs and a rise in sea levels. This project that was launched by NASA is certainly useful and a smart way to learn about the nature of glaciers. The information and knowledge gained from Operation Ice Bridge will surely provide additional insight into the climate change debate – but only time will tell if it will help us combat the problem.