Science

What's going on with that bizarre rectangular iceberg?

What's going on with that bizarre rectangular iceberg?

A rectangular iceberg in Antarctica is capturing attention online for its near-perfect shape.

NASA scientists spotted this "tabular iceberg" floating near the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica.

The discovery was made as part of Operation IceBridge, the largest ever aerial survey of the planet's ice around Greenland and in Antartica.

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.

"I often see icebergs with relatively straight edges, but I've not really seem one before with two corners at such right angles like this one", Operation IceBridge senior support scientist Jeremy Harbeck said.

NASA tweeted a photographed of a long, flat, rectangular iceberg last week, breaking up the popular (but false) notion that icebergs are always spiked mountains of frost rising formidably out of the ocean. In this case, an uncannily square-shaped iceberg broke away from Larsen C, the same ice shelf that produced the huge A-68 iceberg back in July 2017.




"Usually, you get a certain point in which you pass its [the iceberg's] ability to hold itself up", said Walker.

Rectangular icebergs aren't even all that unusual, although this one is a bit more rectangular than most.

"We get two types of icebergs: We get the type that everyone can envision in their head that sank the Titanic, and they look like prisms or triangles at the surface and you know they have a insane subsurface. And then you have what are called "tabular icebergs", she said.

According to the National Snow & Ice Data Center, ice shelves are permanent floating sheets of ice that connect to a land mass.

Although it's often said that there are no straight lines or flawless 90-degree angles in nature, they do happen, albeit rarely. And the portion above the surface is likely just 10 percent of the total iceberg, Petty says. The chunk of ice has since been known as iceberg A-68.


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