Thursday, 15 November, 2018

Square-shaped iceberg off Antarctica splits from ice shelf

NASA cameras recently caught an unusual rectangular iceberg floating off the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica.
Courtesy Reuters  CBS Newspath NASA cameras recently caught an unusual rectangular iceberg floating off the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica. Courtesy Reuters CBS Newspath
Guillermo Lane | 24 October, 2018, 20:08

In this case, an uncannily square-shaped iceberg broke away from Larsen C, the same ice shelf that produced the big A-68 iceberg back in July 2017.

It's hard to tell exactly how big the iceberg is from the photo, but experts said it was probably more than 1.6km (1 mile) across.

Members of the Operation IceBridge, NASA's decade-long airborne survey of polar ice, spotted two rectangular icebergs during a flight over the northern Antarctic Peninsula on October 16, 2018.

Scientists suspect that the now-famed angular iceberg recently snapped off from an ice shelf - which are the ends of glaciers that float over the ocean.

And as with all icebergs only 10% of it is visible; the rest if buried below the surface of the water.

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Seen from space, this particular iceberg has a rich diversity of sharp-edged friends - and although it initially seemed perfectly rectangular, it's not.

It's described as a "tabular iceberg" - with steep sides and a flat top, typically formed by "snapping off" from an ice shelf, experts say. "You can just get these fracture lines that can form these interesting geometric structures", he says, and points out a different, triangle-shaped iceberg spotted by NASA scientists recently. That iceberg measured about 2,300 square miles, as NPR's Geoff Brumfiel reported.

NASA also shared a picture of a perfectly triangular block of ice found nearby and taken on the same trip, Operation Icebridge.

Scientists are concerned about how ice at Earth's poles will fare with warming temperatures, and how melting ice will affect sea levels around the world, but Bartholomaus is hesitant to draw direct links to climate change. "Scientists can then calculate the distance between the aircraft or the satellite and the ice surface, which gives them the ice height".

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