The area drained by Pine Island Glacier comprises about 10 percent of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Satellite measurements have shown that the Pine Island Glacier Basin has a greater net contribution of ice to the sea than any other ice drainage basin in the world and this has increased due to recent acceleration of the ice stream.
The NASA DC8 OIB team completed the “PIG 5” mission today. Pine Island Glacier (PIG) is huge, and without reference objects, it’s tough to have any sense of scale flying over it at 1500′. The huge iceberg 9B46) that recently broke from PIG was overflown; again the scale is enormous and that iceberg contained many fractures and separate icebergs. The weather was fine, areas of sun and high overcast, and no turbulence. All OIB remote sensing instruments operated nominally, and reported good data collection.
The Antarctic weather forecast for our remaining science missions is doubtful for tomorrow, but we’ll assess the weather satellite images in the morning and decide if a mission attempt would be worthwhile.
Pine Island Glacier (PIG) is a large ice stream glacier, and the fastest melting glacier in Antarctica, responsible for about 25% of Antarctica’s ice loss. The glacier ice streams flow west-northwest along the south side of the Hudson Mountains into Pine Island Bay, Amundsen Sea, Antarctica. It was mapped by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) from surveys and United States Navy (USN) air photos, 1960–66, and named by the Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names (US-ACAN) in association with Pine Island Bay.
Wide view of today’s flight track
Detail of today’s flight track
All the photos below taken in the vicinity of the Pine Island Glacier calving front or just upstream.
ATM T6 wide scan elevation plot over a typical crack in Pine Island Glacier. The crack is about 70 meters (230 feet) deep
ATM T6 wide scan elevation plot over more cracks in Pine Island Glacier. These cracks are about 50 meters (164 feet) deep
ATM T6 wide scan elevation plot over smaller crevasses just several meters deep