April 20, 2013 - Icebergs off South Georgia

Icebergs off South Georgia

Clouds and icebergs surrounded snow-covered South Georgia Island in early April, 2013. Clouds are common over this part of the Southern Ocean at any time of the year – and icebergs are common sights as well, particularly in the spring and summer.

Each year as sunshine lengthens and temperatures warm, Antarctic glaciers crack and drop pieces into the ocean. Once afloat, these newly calved icebergs begin a slow journey, drifting with the prevailing currents.

South Georgia Island lies downstream of the glacier-filled Antarctic Peninsula in the currents known as the Weddell-Scotia Confluence, which acts as a conveyor belt for icebergs. South Georgia Island itself acts as an iceberg trap, with a continental shelf that extends more than 50 km from the coast, and has a shallow depth of about 200 meters. While smaller icebergs can flow by, big bergs often become grounded and slowly decay. It has been said that South Georgia is the place where icebergs come to die.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this true-color image of South Georgia Island and surrounding bright white icebergs on April 10, 2013.

Image Facts
Satellite: Aqua
Date Acquired: 4/10/2013
Resolutions: 1km (108.3 KB), 500m (418.9 KB), 250m (1014.7 KB)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC