Polar View imagery tracks ice shelf calving triggered by Japan’s earthquake and tsunsami

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September 7, 2011

Recent satellite photos from the European Space Agency show huge icebergs were created when the Japanese tsunami hit West Antarctica’s Sulzberger Ice Shelf. This caused 125 square kilometres of ice to break off – or calve – from a shelf front that has remained stable for the past 46 years.

These findings, by a US-based team of scientists from NASA, University of Chicago and Northwestern University, were recently published in the Journal of Glaciology. (Vol. 57, No. 205 2011, p785-88).

The waves generated by the 9.0 Magnitude earthquakes in Japan travelled about 13,000 kilometres across the Pacific Ocean before reaching the Sulzberger Ice Shelf, causing ice to break off and float into the sea.

These activities were monitored in detail using a series of these 30m resolution georeferenced images provided by the Polar View team.

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