The scientific explanation to the rectangular iceberg captured by NASA
The curious iceberg has become a world-wide media phenomenon. Why does it have this shape?
A scientist at NASA’s Operation IceBridge, Jeremy Harbeck, was flying over Antarctica in early October when he saw an iceberg that resembled no other: a tabular iceberg of incredibly sharp angles floating between the sea ice just Beside the ice platform Larsen C. It had an almost perfect rectangular shape. The photos, shared through social networks, were quickly made media.
Despite its strangely perfect shape, this iceberg is completely natural, and in fact it is not even unusual. The ice has a glass structure, which means it is more likely to break in straight lines than in any other way. It happens as with minerals, which can grow and break at very precise angles.
Tabular icebergs are more common than we think
That is why we often see icebergs with geometric shapes, although it is true that a rectangle as perfect as this is clearly unusual.
The walls of this new iceberg are sharp and almost perfectly vertical, suggesting that they were recently formed. Let us remember that, normally, only 10% of an iceberg is visible on the water. As time passes, the waves will begin to erode these edges, creating large arches and sinking into their walls. Perfection will disappear.
The iceberg will also continue to break and cracking, losing chunks of ice around the edge, and possibly even fragmenting into smaller pieces.
The iceberg will also begin to move away from the area in which it was formed; In this displacement, the cold air and the temperature of the sea will make it melt slowly, although the great icebergs can survive for many years.
The largest iceberg ever observed, called B-15, was released from Antarctica in 2000, and there are still some fragments of it near the island of South Georgia. Other fragments of B-15 left the Southern Ocean, appearing only 60 kilometers from the coast of New Zealand in 2006.
The path to which this type of iceberg derives is important to scientists because, as they travel, they release fresh water and micronutrients into the ocean, changing their chemical properties and affecting both local ocean currents and biology.
The iceberg was almost perfectly rectangular, with square sides and a flat upper part
The reason why the Iceberg B-15 has survived so much is due to its enormous size: it measures 295 by 35 kilometers. On the contrary, the famous rectangular iceberg is only 1 kilometer long, so it won’t last that long.
It is likely to move farther around the coast and slowly disintegrate, melting before it leaves the Antarctic waters and losing its perfectly straight lines.