Watch The Birth Of A 17-Mile Iceberg

By Chris Mills on at

Most iceberg-forming videos show the violence of glaciers calving, the groaning as thousands of tonnes of ice tip into the sea. But this sequence of photos from NASA’s satellites reveal a far more stately process: the birth of a 17-mile iceberg.

The berg appears to have fractured from West Antarctica’s Getz Ice Shelf and moved out into in the Amundsen Sea sometime in mid- to late-February 2015. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites acquired these images spanning the calving event. The first image (left) shows the iceberg on February 16, when it was still attached to the ice shelf. By February 28 (middle), it appears to have separated somewhat. By March 5 (right), it is floating freely.

B-34, as the lovely chunk of ice you see drifting off has been named by National Ice Center, is a mind-meltingly-massive 17 miles long. [NASA Earth Observatory]

Image credit: NASA /Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response