Watching ice shelves break up with Sentinel-1

The animation below shows the evolution of Thwaites glacier eastern ice shelf in West Antarctica, from July 2016 to May 2017. I made it with 45 quicklooks of Sentinel-1 radar images processed by the Alaska Satellite Facility and available via the vertex data portal. All images were acquired in interferometric wide swath mode (polarization HH, only ascending passes, path: 65, frame: 914) and projected to ground range.

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Pine Island Glacier rift

The rift of Pine Island Glacier's floating tongue is a cause of concern among glaciologists because it suggests that this part of the ice shelf is not stable and may collapse in the future. As explained in this EOS article [1]

Rifts usually form at the sides of an ice shelf where the ice is thin and subject to shearing that rips it apart. But this particular rift originated in the center of Pine Island Glacier’s ice shelf and propagated out to the margins.This implies that something weakened the center of the ice shelf. The most likely explanation is that a crevasse melted out at the bedrock level, driven by a warming ocean, according to the researchers."

Online survey: can we detect an expansion of the rift on the Sentinel-2 images only?

Sentinel-2 images of the Pine Island Glacier ice shelf rift. Each subset shows the eastern portion of the rift on a different date. Which one shows the longest rift according to you? Click on the image to vote!


The results of the survey are given in the next post.


[1] Lipuma, L. (2017), West Antarctic ice shelf breaking up from the inside out, Eos, 98, doi:10.1029/2017EO064743. Published on 04 January 2017