In July one of the largest icebergs ever recorded broke off Antarctica's Larsen C ice shelf. The massive 6,000 km² (2,300 mi²) chunk of ice represented ten percent of the total ice shelf. As part of NASA's annual IceBridge polar ice mapping project we are now seeing close-up photographs of this giant new iceberg for the first time – and it is undeniably spectacular.
Operation IceBridge is a yearly survey of the Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets. The science mission is fundamental to our understanding of how the ice and the ocean interact as well as tracking the movement and thickness of various ice shelves.
The trip over Larsen C wasn't just designed to get some happy snaps of the new mega-iceberg, but also to map the ice shelf in detail using a variety of instruments to better understand this complex system. Scientist Kathryn Hansen, on the IceBridge expedition writes of her sensation as the plane approached the iceberg:
"I was aware that I would be seeing an iceberg the size of Delaware, but I wasn't prepared for how that would look from the air. Most icebergs I have seen appear relatively small and blocky, and the entire part of the berg that rises above the ocean surface is visible at once. Not this berg. A-68 is so expansive it appears if it were still part of the ice shelf."
Take a look through the gallery to see pictures of the Larsen C iceberg, as well as more stunning images from the IceBridge flight over Antarctica.
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