Iceberg in Antarctica breaks off Pine Island Glacier, satellite image confirms

Image of the Pine Island Glacier ice shelf from the German Aerospace Center Earth monitoring satellite TerraSAR-X captured on July 8, 2013. (DLR)

July 12, 2013 7:05:58 AM PDT
An iceberg in Antarctica is getting international attention after a satellite image caught it breaking off Pine Island Glacier.

The image was captured by a German earth-observing satellite on July 8, 2013. "The rift soon became the focus of international scientific attention," according to

That's because the images gave scientists a chance to watch a glacier "calve," which is where the rift grows and eventually breaks, in this case making a 280-square-mile ice island.

Glacier calving is a regular part of an ice sheet's life cycle, according to, but often raise questions about what the future might hold.

"Computer models are one of the methods researchers use to project future ice sheet changes, but calving is a complicated process that is not well represented in continent-scale models," according to

The Pine Island Glacier has been monitored intensely since October 2011, according to a German scientist, with an international collaboration called Operation Ice Bridge.