Mysterious 'perfectly rectangular' iceberg breaks off Antarctica

24 October, 2018, 20:14 | Author: Patty Aguilar
  • The B-15 iceberg is the world's largest free-floating object ever recorded

They can take more geometrically pleasing shapes than their more rugged, non-tabular counterparts.

The image was captured during a flight for Operation IceBridge, the largest airborne survey of Earth's polar ice.

Brunt explained to the science website that tabular icebergs are long, wide and flat and break away from ice shelves.

The rectangular iceberg appeared to be freshly calved from Larsen C, which in July 2017 released a massive iceberg called A68. Because the recently photographed iceberg was still sharp around the edges, NASA scientists said it's likely that this berg was cleaved off not too long ago.

"Icebergs detaching from the edges of these ice shelves are like corners of a sheet of office paper getting cut with a pair of ocean-scissors", said Timothy Bartholomaus, a glaciologist with the University of Idaho. At their largest, tabular icebergs can extend for hundreds of miles in length, and reach hundreds of feet below the surface.

Though scientists in Antarctica regularly spot these steep-walled "tabular" icebergs - many almost square or rectangular - they certainly look like freaky, unnatural forms in such a wild Earth environment.

"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.

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

Covering an estimated 5,800 sq km, the Larsen C ice shelf extends along the east coast of the Antarctic Peninsula from Cape Longing to Smith Peninsula.

Figuring out exactly how climate change affects Antarctic ice, though, remains challenging, according to Bartholomaus.

The internet got pretty excited over the past week about an oddly squared-off iceberg that sparked talk of everything from aliens to the imposing monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey.


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