Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Here's how that weird, rectangular-looking iceberg came to be

Hamish Pritchard | British Antarctic Survey via AP Hamish Pritchard | British Antarctic Survey via AP
Derrick Tucker | 24 October, 2018, 20:12

Usually, when we think of icebergs, we don't imagine ideal geometric shapes.

From yesterday's #IceBridge flight:Triangular iceberg surrounded by many different types of sea ice, off the Larsen ice shelf in the Weddell Sea.

The flight originated from Punta Arenas, Chile, as part of a five-week-long IceBridge deployment, which began 10 October and is scheduled to conclude on 18 November.

"How the berg is formed is speculative given the collisions are not known in much detail, nor is the physical state of the iceberg - many rifts are visible in satellite imagery, many are not yet visible but are forming as the berg responds to its journey", says Shuman.

NASA scientist Kelly Brunt told LiveScience, "What makes this one a bit unusual is that it looks nearly like a square". Once they split from an ice shelf, they are often geometric in shape.

"The ice has time to spread out and become perfectly flat", Poinar adds, so when an iceberg breaks off from a large ice shelf along an existing fissure, it looks like a large, flat rectangle.

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Senior research scientist Ted Scambos with the University of Colorado at Boulder says the iceberg is in the ballpark of 40 metres tall and anywhere from a mile or two long.

The A68 iceberg is a chunk of ice about the size of the state of DE which was released by the Larsen C ice shelf past year.

The unusual looking iceberg is called a tabular iceberg, and its photo was taken for NASA's Operation IceBridge, which documents "Earth's polar ice to better understand connections between polar regions and the global climate system".

The calving of the huge iceberg reduced the size of the ice shelf by 12%.

"This one came from the crumbling Larsen C ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula".

In any case, users stressed that the iceberg certainly looked interesting, with several suggesting it reminded them of a scene out of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.

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