In this day and age, people question everything. With the internet allowing anybody to write and post what they want, it’s best to be skeptical about most things— and this weird iceberg? Well, it had everyone scratching their heads.
Earlier this month, NASA’s ice team posted a photo of a perfectly rectangular iceberg.
Scientist Jeremy Harbeck had been surveying the Antarctic Peninsula when he came across the peculiar formation. The photo was taken by Operation IceBridge, a fleet of research aircraft that capture images of Earth’s polar ice.
The rectangular formation was situated near the Larsen C ice shelf, the large chunk that broke off the Antarctic Peninsula back in July of 2017. Generally, icebergs appear asymmetrical and triangular in shape, but according to experts, this rectangular iceberg is completely normal too.
This particular iceberg is known as a tabular iceberg, a title which refers to its steep sides and flat top.
Although the formation is oddly reminiscent of the monolith from 2001: A Space Oddesey, scientists assure us it was not deposited by aliens.
“Here’s the deal,” ice scientist Kelly Brunt explained. “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 and triangles at the surface … Then you have what are called ‘tabular icebergs’.
Tabular icebergs are created in a process similar to the way a nail grows too long, cracking at the end.
“What makes this one a bit unusual is that it looks almost like a square,” she said.
The sharp corners of the iceberg show it has only broken off recently. Eventually, the wind and sea will erode the sharp edges, giving it a more rounded look.
The iceberg will also start to travel as the current carries it around. Tracking the movements of these formations is important for scientists, because as the icebergs move they release freshwater and micronutrients, affecting the ocean’s chemical properties and marine life.
Interestingly, the largest iceberg on record is also a tabular iceberg, measuring 183 miles long and 23 miles across— bigger than the entire island of Jamaica.
Known as Iceberg B-15, scientists originally spotted it breaking off the Ross Ice Shelf in Antartica back in March of 2000.
Although this rectangular iceberg may not be as big as B-15, The National Post says it’s part of a bigger story.
Areas around the world have been showing increased rates of iceberg production. “With so many icebergs on the move,” they say, “the chances of seeing more rectangular icebergs in the future may well increase.”
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