A new image mosaic of the Fimbul Ice Shelf

A mosaic of high resolution mages gives a detailed view of the Fimbul Ice Shelf.

Image mosaic of the Fimbul Ice Shelf

Image mosaic of the Fimbul Ice Shelf Photo: DLR - German Aerospace Center, compiled by Angelika Humbert

When planning a large scientific field expedition to the Antarctic such as this Fimbul project we not only need to plan the science and prepare all the necessary equipment , but we also need to carefully plan our route. It is important to optimize our driving both to minimize the distance we travel and to avoid dangerous areas where there might be crevasses. Since we are working in an area which is relatively little known and remote the best tool we have for this job is satellite imagery.

Through our project partner Angelika Humbert from the University of Muenster in Germany we have been able to access images from the recently launched TerraSAR-X satellite. This satellite takes Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) images. Angelika has downloaded several images that cover our project area and put them together in a mosaic that you can see below. The full resolution of this imagery is 1.25m which is so good that we should be able to identify most crevasse areas and even individual crevasses. Another advantage of SAR imagery is that it isn’t affected by cloud cover so takes images of the ice even when its overcast. Dry snow is also transparent to these images which means we can see where crevasses are even when they are covered by snow bridges.

An image with large enough resolution to show many details of the surface of the ice can be downloaded here.