Iceberg A-68 and Oxford Physics

14 July 2017

Oxford Physics scientists have used satellites to document the creation of Iceberg A-68

Oxford Physics scientists have used satellites to document the creation of Iceberg A-68, one of the largest icebergs ever recorded, which appears to have split from the Larsen-C ice shelf in Antartica on the 11th of July. The constant darkness of polar winter means it can be hard to monitor the Antarctic ice sheets, but data from specialist satellite sensors that see using reflected moonlight[1] allow us to peer through the gloom and watch the Iceberg break away.

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The first view of A-68 after it broke free from the Larsen-C ice sheet.

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A special technique, known as ORAC[2], created by the Earth Observation Data Group[3] at Oxford Physics and researchers at RAL Space[4] transforms these satellite images into information about the Earth and its atmosphere - giving insight into clouds over Antarctica and enabling us to retrieve clear pictures of the new iceberg.

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Data produced by Oxford physics showing the temperature of the Earth's surface. The newly-formed A-68 iceberg is slightly to the left of centre, separated from Antarctica by a thin line of red, indicating warmer sea water.

If you would like to know more about this project, contact Dr Simon Proud (author of this article), and Prof Don Grainger, Dr Adam Povey, Dr Greg McGarrah or Simon on the wider ORAC algorithm subject.

[1] https://earthdata.nasa.gov/viirs-dnb
[2] http://proj.badc.rl.ac.uk/orac/
[3] http://eodg.atm.ox.ac.uk/eodg/
[4] https://www.ralspace.stfc.ac.uk/Pages/home.aspx