Transcripts of

[00:00:00.02] [aircraft sound]
[00:00:04.11] We are currently on our mission down to Pine Island Glacier in west Antarctica
[00:00:08.16] and we will be flying about a 3 hour survey there over the glacier.
[00:00:12.21] Pine Island Glacier losing ice very quickly
[00:00:16.27] about 6 meters per year and today we will go back and re-fly
[00:00:20.31] the same mission that we have flown two years earlier in 2009.
[00:00:24.40] And we can compare the data that we collect today to our previous data
[00:00:28.46] and also to the data of the ICESat satellite that has collected
[00:00:32.50] surface elevation measurements there over many years. And this will tell us
[00:00:36.55] how much ice is being lost in west Antarctica
[00:00:40.64] and contributes to sea level rise.
[00:00:44.72] Two weeks ago we had another mission over Pine Island Glacier
[00:00:48.78] and when looking out of the window of the aircraft we noticed
[00:00:52.80] a fairly large crack in the ice shelf.
[00:00:56.84] And I talked back to colleagues in the U.S. that downloaded satellite images
[00:01:00.93] and they reported that this crack has formed in sometime between
[00:01:04.98] end of September or early October.
[00:01:09.00] These things happen on a semi-regular basis in both the Arctic and the Antarctic,
[00:01:13.04] but it's still a fairly large event.
[00:01:17.16] So we wanted to make sure we captured as much of that process as we could.
[00:01:21.17] So today was our first trip to be back in the area and what we do is we modified the existing flight plan
[00:01:25.19] to add another half hour to the flight in order to catch a flight along the
[00:01:29.30] direction of the rift, in order to get mainly a lidar and photographic map of
[00:01:33.37] the shape, depth of the rift, and the width of it -- see how it's developing over time.
[00:01:37.43] At the moment the crack is about 80 meters wide.
[00:01:41.46] If it continues to propagate, it's about an iceberg that ice the area of 800 square kilometers
[00:01:45.51] that eventually will break off from the
[00:01:49.54] Pine Island Glacier.
[00:01:53.61] Now if we're lucky, we may get another chance to come back to this area later, if weather and
[00:01:57.74] timing permits, to do what we just did today to see how the rift has further developed as time goes on.
[00:02:01.91] A lot of times when you're in science you
[00:02:05.95] don't get a chance to catch the big stories as they happen because you're
[00:02:10.08] not there at the right time, but this time we were.
[00:02:14.15] These are discreet processes in time, they take place over a period of just a few weeks
[00:02:18.18] and we just happened to be here at the right time to catch it.