Iceberg Collision at Mertz Glacier Tongue, Antarctica

Photograph by NASA/ Goddard Space Flight Center/Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team


 

At 94 kilometers (58 miles) by 39 kilometers (24 miles) in size, the B-09B iceberg is comparable to the state of Rhode Island, which is wider but not quite so long. After lingering near the Mertz Glacier in Eastern Antarctica for several years, the massive iceberg collided with the glacier tongue on February 12 or 13, breaking it away from the rest of the glacier. The former glacier tongue formed a new iceberg nearly as large as B-09B. These images, all from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor on NASA’s Aqua satellite, show the iceberg and glacier tongue immediately before and after the collision.

The iceberg formed from the Mertz Glacier Tongue is 78 kilometers (48 miles) long by 39 kilometers (24 miles) wide and has a mass of 700-800 billion tons, reported BBC News. The glacier tongue had previously contributed to keeping a section of the ocean free of ice, a condition known as a polynya. The polynya provided a significant feeding site for wildlife like penguins. The shorter tongue may not protect the area from sea ice, reducing or even eliminating the polynya and the access to food it provided. [Source]