March 15, 2023 - Iceberg A-76A Heads North

Iceberg A76A making its way north

On March 8, 2023, a break in widespread cloud cover allowed the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on board NASA’s Aqua satellite to acquire a true-color image of Iceberg A-76A as it drifts northward into warmer waters of the South Atlantic Ocean.

The iceberg’s parent berg (A-76) broke from Antarctica’s Ronne Ice Shelf in May 2021. At the time, it was the largest iceberg anywhere on the planet. Within a month, the iceberg lost that status when it broke into three named pieces.

In October 2022, the largest piece—Iceberg A-76A—was captured drifting almost 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) away in the Drake Passage, a turbulent body of water between South America’s Cape Horn and Antarctica’s South Shetland Islands. By March 2023, A-76A had exited the northern reach of the Drake Passage, floating nearly even with the tip of Cape Horn, which is located west and off of the left edge of the image. The Falkland Islands, a South Atlantic archipelago that sits on the Patagonian Shelf about 300 miles (480 km) east of South America, can be seen under clouds to the northwest of Iceberg A-76A.

Image Facts
Satellite: Aqua
Date Acquired: 3/8/2023
Resolutions: 1km (1 MB), 500m (3.3 MB),
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC