17
Mar
10

Ross Ice Shelf


Ice shelves are thick plates of ice, formed continuously by glaciers, that float atop an ocean. The presence of the shelves acts as “brakes” for the glaciers. These shelves serve another important purpose — “they moderate the amount of melting that occurs on the glaciers’ surfaces. The Ross Ice Shelf is one of many such shelves.

Now for the numbers which sets this ice shelf apart!

It is about the size of France, and reaches into Antarctica from the south. The ice mass is about 800 km (500 miles) wide and 970km (600 miles) long. In some places, namely its southern areas, the ice shelf can be almost 750 m (2,450 ft) thick. The Ross Ice Shelf pushes out into the sea at the rate of between 1.5 m (5ft) and 3 m (10 ft) a day. There are other glaciers that gradually add bulk to it. At the same time, the freezing of seawater below the ice mass increases the thickness of the ice from 40 cm (16 in) to 50 cm (20 in). Sometimes, fissures and cracks may cause part of the shelf to break off; the largest known is about 31,000 km² (12,000 square miles), that is slightly larger than the size of Belgium. Iceberg B-15, the world’s largest recorded iceberg, was calved from the Ross Ice Shelf during March 2000.

Read more here.

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