Between November 9 and 11, 2013, a large iceberg separated from the Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica. NASA has been watching the event since October, 2011, when the first glacial crack was detected during flights for Operation IceBridge. By July, 2013 that crack was stretching across the entire calving front. On November 8, the crack was beginning to widen as calving neared completion. By November 16, the new iceberg, Iceberg B-31, had taken leave of the glacier, and was rapidly drifting into Pine Island Bay.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured a true-color image of the drifting glacier on November 16. To see the movement of the glacier since the final separation began, compare this image with the image captured by the MODIS on the Terra satellite on November 8: http://modis.gsfc.nasa.gov/gallery/individual.php?db_date=2013-11-19
Iceberg B-31 is obviously on the move, but the ultimate path the iceberg will take depends on the currents as well as the vertical shape and depth of the iceberg. Researchers have found that larger icebergs with deeper keels tend to drift with the deeper, cyclonic circumpolar current, while sea ice and shallower icebergs tend to drift with the coastal counter current. A team of scientists from Sheffield and Southampton universities will track the 700 square kilometer B-31, to document its movement, as well as to try to predict its path using satellite data.