I've been hibernating more than anticipated (man, I slept good last night!), but luckily there's more than 5 months to go until the start of the melting season. It's still November, so here's this month's open thread.
We don't do Antarctic here, but FrankD sent me a couple of images from Pine Island Glacier that show the now infamous crack forming. I've turned them into a small animation spanning the period March 9th 2011 - November 3rd 2011:
Here's FrankD's accompanying text:
It is pretty easy to sea the progression over the last three weeks (day 287, 297 and 307), and at the current rapid rate of progress you would expect it to separate completely in about 2 to 3 months.
The crack first appeared on Day 283, after a 12 day period of cloud obscuring the view. It is of course possible that it was there prior to Day 271 and covered by snow, but its appearance is so sudden and pronounced (spanning half the glacier from the get-go) that that seems a little unlikely. I personally find it tempting to link it's sudden appearance to an earthquake that occurred on October 9th (Day 282) in the South Pacific (50S 114W). It wasn't a huge one (Mag 5.6) and it was some 2500 km's away, but it was well positioned to channel energy into Pine Island Bay. There are a couple of previous large calvings that may have been associated with similar quakes in this area. The large crack that appeared in 2000 may have been one example, and the final calving of that event in November 2001 coincided with another earthquake in this location. That linkage (if correct) only goes to the specific timing of this event, of course. The bigger picture is that when this does let go, it will take the PIG's snout further back than at any time since it was first charted in the 1940's.
Here's a nice vid from NASA: