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Last updated on April 19, 2014 at 1:20 EDT
Antarctic Peninsula
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Antarctic Peninsula

January 20, 2006
One of the first images taken by Envisat, ESA's Earth observation satellite.

ASAR image of 18 March 2002, MERIS image taken on 23 March 2002. Scientists estimate that the Larsen B ice shelf, which collapsed in spring 2002, had been stable since the last ice age 12 000 years ago ice dynamic studies suggest it will take several hundred years of colder weather to completely rebuild it.

What is more likely is that warming will continue, possibly reaching further south to affect the so-far stable Larsen C Ice Shelf. Envisat is particularly well suited to continue observing this remote, usually cloud-covered region. This combined ASAR and MERIS image shows cloud cover over the Peninsula, and how the ASAR pierces through it for weather-independent observation of the ice shelves.

Existing ice shelves can also play an important role for the production of deep water known to take place in the Weddel Sea. "These regular observations with ASAR are therefore essential for the understanding of ice shelf dynamics, its retreat and subsequent influence on convective overturning and deep water formation, which are key processes for global ocean circulation" explains Prof. J.A.Johannessen of the Nansen Center in Norway.

Technical Information:
  • Satellite: Envisat
  • Instrument: ASAR
  • Acquisition: 18-Mar-2002
  • Orbit nr: 00250
  • Center coordinates: lat. -64.50, lon. -60.00