Breaking ice


NASA scientists keep an eye on the sea ice of the Antarctic. 


Many broken sea ice floes with interesting colour variations spotted during Operation IceBridge’s first flight of the 2017 Antarctic campaign.
Many broken sea ice floes with interesting colour variations spotted during Operation IceBridge’s first flight of the 2017 Antarctic campaign.
NASA / Nathan Kurtz

The photo above, taken by NASA’s IceBridge mission, shows broken ice floes off the coast of West Antarctica.

IceBridge uses aerial photography to fill gaps in the satellite record of land and sea ice at the poles. At present, IceBridge has a plane travelling around the fast-changing region of West Antarctica, observing sea ice in the Bellingshausen and Weddell seas and glaciers on the Antarctic Peninsula and along the English and Bryan coasts. This year IceBridge will also observe the Larsen C and Venable ice shelves for the first time.

Another target this year is comparing IceBridge data was radar satellite observations to detect what is called the frontal ice zone, which is a band of older and thicker sea ice near the northern edge of the ring of sea ice around Antarctica which may have a protective effect on more southerly sea ice.

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