The Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica fascinates scientists worldwide and is the hotspot for glaciologists and climate researchers who try to understand the melting of the West Antarctic ice sheet. In a study in which scientists from the EOC were also involved, the changes at Pine Island Glacier were examined in more detail. As reported, there have been significant calving events, especially between 2013 and 2015. After such events, glacier masses can flow more quickly from the interior of the continent and thus contribute directly to sea-level rise.
At the end of October 2018, another calving event took place at Pine Island Glacier, resulting in the iceberg B46 of 27 km length and 8 km width. The total length of the active calving zone is more than 40 km. This most recent event was observed with the aid of the European Radar satellites Sentinel-1A and -1B, which provide an important daily data source for polar research. These data are continuously processed and stored in the Processing and Archiving Center (PAC) of the German Remote Sensing Data Center (DFD) and are therefore available to scientists only a few hours after their acquisition.
Source of Sentinel Data: © Copernicus Sentinel Data (2018)
The EOC will continue to support scientific activities in the Pine Island Glacier region during the upcoming Antarctic summer season. In January 2019, an international expedition of the "International Ocean Discovery Program" (IODP) will set off for the Amundsen Sea region with its research vessel JOIDES Resolution. The expedition team will collect drill cores from the seabed which enables the reconstruction of the historical glacier and ice sheet dynamics. Throughout the expedition, the EOC will utilize the TerraSAR-X satellite to provide important near real-time information products on current sea ice conditions. They are used to plan ship routes and to prioritize pre-defined drilling sites dependent on the latest sea ice information. DLR's German Antarctic station GARS O'Higgins will be used as the nearest receiving station. And due to the ability to process the received data directly at the station, extremely fast data availability can be achieved.