Antarctica is the coldest, driest, highest (on average), and windiest continent, with 99% of its area covered by a permanent ice sheet. Weather conditions are severe and changeable. This polar region is also the home of spectacular wildlife, volcanoes, hot springs and colossal icebergs. Icebergs float because the density of ice (around 900 kg per cubic meter) is lower than that of seawater (around 1025 kg per cubic meter). The ratio of these densities tells us that 7/8 of the iceberg's mass must be below water. Usually icebergs are 20% to 30% longer under the water than above and not quite as deep as they are long at the waterline.
The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) RADARSAT program was born out the need for effective monitoring of icy waters. RADARSAT-1 was launched in 1995 and was joined by RADRSAT-2 in December 2007. Canada is today a world leader in the operational use of Earth Observation (EO) radar satellites for sea ice monitoring, including icebergs. EO radar satellites have an advantage over aerial surveillance missions. They operate day and night in all weather conditions, and provide timely coverage of vast and remote areas like Antarctica. It is also a cost effective way of obtaining information on large period of time. Ice monitoring from space benefits to multiple socio-economic sectors, including marine security, transportation, tourism and recreation. It is widely use to help commercial or scientific ships navigate safely and cost-effectively through ice-encumbered waters.
The animation is made up is made up of ten images acquired by RADARSAT-2. It shows the close to 50km movement of the C-28 iceberg (in yellow) separated from Mertz Glacier in Eastern Antarctica in eleven days. The separation of this giant mass of ice was due to a collision that happened in February 2010 with the 97 km long B-9B iceberg (right). C-28 is now a 78 km long and 39 km wide iceberg, a surface of 2500 square km (half of Prince Edouard Island in Canada). The RADARSAT-2 images (ScanSAR Narrow mode, 50m resolution) used for the animation were acquired from March 2 to 13, 2010. The product was developed by CSA Earth Observation Applications and Utilizations (EOAU) Division. RADARSAT-2 capabilities that benefit sea-ice applications are the multi-polarization options that improve ice-edge detection, ice-type discrimination, and ice topography and structure information. This CSA product is complementary of the ENVISAT Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) animation developed by the European Space Agency (ESA). The ASAR images were acquired from February 10 to March 4 2010 (Swath mode, 150m resolution). CSA is a cooperating member of ESA and contributed to the development of the ENVISAT satellite.
RADARSAT-2 animation, produced by CSA, that shows the movement of the giant Iceberg. The images were acquired between Marc 2 to 13 2010. RADARSAT-2 Data and Product © MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (2010) – All Rights Reserved.
RADARSAT-2 image showing the Mertz Glacier in Antarctica and the B-9B iceberg before the spectacular collision: May 4th 2009 . RADARSAT-2 Data and Product © MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (2009) – All Rights Reserved.
About the Government of Canada and Antarctica
The Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty on Environmental Protection (Madrid Protocol), adopted in 1991 by the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties, designates Antarctica as a natural reserve. Several areas have ecological, scientific, historical, or other value and are afforded special protection. The Madrid Protocol came into force in 1998. Ratified by 30 countries, the protocol designates the Antarctic as a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science. Under the Madrid Protocol, parties are required to regulate the activities of expeditions organized in or proceeding from their territory to the Antarctic, as well as the activities of their vessels, aircraft and Antarctic stations. Canada ratified the Madrid Protocol in December, 2003, and developed the Antarctic Environmental Protection Act (AEPA) and its supporting regulation to implement the Protocol in Canada. In so doing, the Canadian Government oversees the activities of its citizens in the Antarctic, and provides the means to address potential future environmental risks in the Antarctic. For more information, please visit DFAIT's Antarctica page: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/countries_pays/report_rapport-eng.asp?id=9000#8.http://www.voyage.gc.ca/countries_pays/report_rapport-eng.asp?id=9000#8.
Canadian Antarctic Research Network
Canadian Committee on Antarctic Research
Canadian Space Agency - Earth Observation Applications & Utilizations
Canadian Space Agency - RADARSAT-2 and Ice
Environment Canada - Iceberg Movement
European Space Agency - Icebreak event
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
International Polar Year