Airbus Defence and Space

Birth of a giant iceberg in Antarctica

The Spot 5 satellite witnesses the break-off of a giant iceberg, the Mertz Glacier, from the Antarctic continent.

The tongue of the Mertz Glacier, 100 km away from Adélie Land, broke away from the Antarctic continent sometime between 12 and 13 February. The ice tongue was already beginning to crack before it calved. Alerted by the French LEGOS space geophysics and oceanography research laboratory, the Airbus Defence and Space subsidiary Spot Image tasked the Spot 5 satellite to capture the event.

The satellite images, acquired on 25 February, confirms the calving of a giant iceberg 70 km long and 50 km across drifting north-westward. These two images (above) will enable the scientific community to study the local impacts of the event and to learn more about ice-melt and sea-level rise.

Spot Image was involved in a number of research programmes of the 4th International Polar Year, developing SPIRIT DEM products specifically for glaciology applications.

For more information about Spot Image's contribution to polar research and about MNT SPIRIT products, click on Spot Image and polar research.

Go to to find out about all the Earth Observation Services provided by Spot Image, an Airbus Defence and Space subsidiary.

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