Above the Pine Island Glacier, West AntarcticaAs the plane approached low over the enormous expanse of white, excited scientists crowded to the windows, cameras in hand. Their instruments had warned them that something special was about to emerge from the bleak expanse of West Antarctica.
“We’re coming up on B-46,” a pilot’s voice crackled in their headsets.
Moments later, the cracks appeared. Huge, blocky fissures sliced across the giant white layer cake of the Pine Island Glacier, a fast-moving part of the West Antarctic ice sheet. The sound of clicking shutters filled the noisy, drafty cabin of the DC-8. There were broad smiles and exclamations. “It’s so big,” someone said. “It’s incredible,” said another.
Another giant chunk of ice had just broken off the glacier.
As the jet continued its