NASA reveals new images of A-68 iceberg

In early July, a huge crack in Antarctica's Larsen C ice shelf caused a trillion ton iceberg - the third biggest ever recorded - to break off from the icy southern continent.

The huge chunk of ice, dubbed iceberg A-68, measures 5,800 square kilometres (2,240 square miles), making it around the size of Delaware, or four times the area covered by Greater London.

Now, NASA has been able to fly over the new 'megaberg' to see it up close for the first time - and scientists admit they were stunned by just how big it is.

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The western edge of the famed iceberg A-68 (TOP R), calved from the Larsen C ice shelf, is seen from NASA's Operation IceBridge research aircraft, near the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula region, on October 31, 2017, above Antarctica. The massive iceberg was measured at approximately the size of Delaware when it first calved in July.

The western edge of the famed iceberg A-68 (TOP R), calved from the Larsen C ice shelf, is seen from NASA's Operation IceBridge research aircraft, near the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula region, on October 31, 2017, above Antarctica. The massive iceberg was measured at approximately the size of Delaware when it first calved in July.

THE BIRTH OF A-68

In early July, a huge crack in Antarctica's Larsen C ice shelf caused a trillion ton iceberg - the third biggest ever recorded - to break off from the icy southern continent.

The huge chunk of ice, dubbed iceberg A-68, measures 5,800 square kilometres (2,240 square miles), making it around the size of Delaware, or four times the area covered by Greater London.

'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,' said NASA's Kathryn Hansen, one of the scientists on the flight.

'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. 

'But if you look far into the distance you can see a thin line of water between the iceberg and where the new front of the shelf begins.'

NASA hopes the flight, part of its IceBridge program, will help researchers understand the bedrock under the ice.

'This particular flight, however, aimed to get more than just a superficial look at Larsen C; to understand the system as a whole, scientists also want to know the bathymetry of the bedrock below,' NASA said.

The edge of A-68, the iceberg the calved from the Larsen C ice shelf. NASA hopes the flight, part of its IceBridge program, will help researchers understand the bedrock under the ice.

To do that, the flight path was planned with gravity measurements in mind. 

While radar instruments can 'see' through snow and ice on land to map the bedrock, radar has trouble when instead of land there is water below the ice. 

For the gravimeter, that's not a problem. 

Icebergs and sea ice (R) float next to land ice (L), as seen from NASA's Operation IceBridge research aircraft, near the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula region, on November 3, 2017, above Antarctica

Icebergs and sea ice (R) float next to land ice (L), as seen from NASA's Operation IceBridge research aircraft, near the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula region, on November 3, 2017, above Antarctica

Mountains peek through land ice as seen from NASA's Operation IceBridge research aircraft in the Antarctic Peninsula region, on November 4, 2017, above Antarctica. NASA's Operation IceBridge has been studying how polar ice has evolved over the past nine years and is currently flying a set of nine-hour research flights over West Antarctica to monitor ice loss aboard a retrofitted 1966 Lockheed P-3 aircraft.

Mountains peek through land ice as seen from NASA's Operation IceBridge research aircraft in the Antarctic Peninsula region, on November 4, 2017, above Antarctica. NASA's Operation IceBridge has been studying how polar ice has evolved over the past nine years and is currently flying a set of nine-hour research flights over West Antarctica to monitor ice loss aboard a retrofitted 1966 Lockheed P-3 aircraft.

The new flight lines, flown for the first time, followed the ground tracks of the future ICESat-2 satellite, and simultaneously increased the area of Larsen C mapped with the gravimeter. 

Earlier this year detailed images from NASA's Landsat 8 show the widening gap between the main shelf and the ice berg, with a thin layer of loose, floating ice in between.

Since the Delaware-sized chunk of ice, dubbed A-68, broke off the Antarctic shelf this summer, it's remained unclear what will happen to the giant mass, with fears it could break up into pieces too small to track on satellite, and drift into shipping lanes. 

UNSPECIFIED, ANTARCTICA - NOVEMBER 04: Sea ice as seen from NASA's Operation IceBridge research aircraft in the Antarctic Peninsula region, on November 4, 2017, above Antarctica. NASA's Operation IceBridge has been studying how polar ice has evolved over the past nine years and is currently flying a set of nine-hour research flights over West Antarctica to monitor ice loss aboard a retrofitted 1966 Lockheed P-3 aircraft. According to NASA, the current mission targets 'sea ice in the Bellingshausen and Weddell seas and glaciers in the Antarctic Peninsula and along the English and Bryan Coasts.' Researchers have used the IceBridge data to observe that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet may be in a state of irreversible decline directly contributing to rising sea levels. The National Climate Assessment, a study produced every 4 years by scientists from 13 federal agencies of the U.S. government, released a stark report November 2 stating that global temperature rise over the past 115 years has

Sea ice as seen from NASA's Operation IceBridge research aircraft in the Antarctic Peninsula region, on November 4, 2017, above Antarctica. NASA's Operation IceBridge has been studying how polar ice has evolved over the past nine years and is currently flying a set of nine-hour research flights over West Antarctica to monitor ice loss aboard a retrofitted 1966 Lockheed P-3 aircraft.

Ice is seen from NASA's Operation IceBridge research aircraft in the Antarctic Peninsula region, on November 4, 2017, above Antarctica. '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,' said NASA's Kathryn Hansen, one of the scientists on the flight.

Ice is seen from NASA's Operation IceBridge research aircraft in the Antarctic Peninsula region, on November 4, 2017, above Antarctica. '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,' said NASA's Kathryn Hansen, one of the scientists on the flight.

The new images captured on September 16 reveal a natural color and thermal view of the main iceberg and the ice shelf.

Inside the gap, one particular iceberg stands out as much larger than the rest.

This, according to NASA, has been drifting northward in the passage since the main chunk split off.

A-68 is slowly drifting – a phenomenon that has become apparent as the separation between the two large bodies of ice continues to increase.

The view from the P-3 after take off shows mountains that received an overnight dusting of snow in Ushuaia, Argentina.

The view from the P-3 after take off shows mountains that received an overnight dusting of snow in Ushuaia, Argentina.  Right, IceBridge mission scientist John Sonntag plays his guitar, following a long science flight,

Mountains peek through land ice as seen from NASA's Operation IceBridge research aircraft in the Antarctic Peninsula region, on November 4, 2017, above Antarctica. According to NASA, the current mission targets 'sea ice in the Bellingshausen and Weddell seas and glaciers in the Antarctic Peninsula and along the English and Bryan Coasts.'

Mountains peek through land ice as seen from NASA's Operation IceBridge research aircraft in the Antarctic Peninsula region, on November 4, 2017, above Antarctica. According to NASA, the current mission targets 'sea ice in the Bellingshausen and Weddell seas and glaciers in the Antarctic Peninsula and along the English and Bryan Coasts.'

Sea ice is viewed aboard NASA's research aircraft in the Antarctic Peninsula region, on November 3, 2017, above Antarctica

Sea ice is viewed aboard NASA's research aircraft in the Antarctic Peninsula region, on November 3, 2017, above Antarctica

'Both images show a thin layer of frazil ice, which does not offer much resistance as winds, tides, and currents try to move the massive iceberg away from the Larsen C ice shelf,' NASA explains.

'In a few weeks of observations, scientists have seen the passage widen between the main iceberg and the front of the shelf.

'This slow widening comes after an initial back-and-forth movement in July broke the main berg in two large pieces, which the US National Ice Center named A-68 and A-68B.

'The collisions also produced a handful of pieces too small to be named.'

Stunning new satellite images have revealed the movement of the massive iceberg that calved from the Larsen C ice shelf in July. The detailed images captured by instruments aboard NASA’s Landsat 8 show the widening gap between the main shelf and the ice berg, with a thin layer of loose, floating ice in between

Stunning new satellite images have revealed the movement of the massive iceberg that calved from the Larsen C ice shelf in July. The detailed images captured by instruments aboard NASA's Landsat 8 show the widening gap between the main shelf and the ice berg, with a thin layer of loose, floating ice in between

Additional satellite images captured last month show how the trillion ton iceberg which broke off Antarctica has begun to drift farther out to sea.

The huge chunk of ice, dubbed A68, which is around the size of Delaware or four times the size of Greater London, made its final break back in July after a crack began to form in 2014. 

Professor Stef Lhermitte, of Delft University in the Netherlands, shared some of the latest satellite images of A68 on Twitter.

Since the Delaware-sized chunk of ice, dubbed A-68, broke off the Antarctic shelf this summer, it’s remained unclear what will happen to the giant mass, with fears it could break up into pieces too small to track on satellite, and drift into shipping lanes. A thermal image of the iceberg is pictured

Since the Delaware-sized chunk of ice, dubbed A-68, broke off the Antarctic shelf this summer, it's remained unclear what will happen to the giant mass, with fears it could break up

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