Key Facts about Ross Ice Shelf

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Researchers have uncovered a surprising phenomenon in Antarctica: the massive Ross Ice Shelf, roughly the size of France, lurches forward several centimetres once or twice a day.

About Ross Ice Shelf:

  • Location: It is the largest ice shelf of Antarctica.
  • It is situated in the Ross Sea, extending off the continent’s coast into the ocean.
  • It is the world’s largest floating body of ice, covering approximately 487,000 square kilometres, about the size of France.
  • Only ten percent of the ice shelf is visible, with the majority hidden in several hundred metres of ice below the surface.
  • Thickness: Its thickness varies significantly, ranging from about 100 meters to several hundred meters. The thickest parts are generally found where the shelf anchors against the continent.
  • Formation:
    • It is formed by the accumulation and compaction of snow, which, over time, turns into ice.
    • It is being fed a constant flow of ice from glaciersdrainingfrom both the East and West Antarctic Ice Sheets.
    • As new ice is added, existing ice is being removed through melting at the base and ice calving at the front. 
  • It plays an important role in stabilising the Antarctic ice sheet, buttressing the ice that is constantly moving over the land surface.

Key Facts about Ross Sea:

  • It is a giant bay just 320 kms from the South Pole.
  • The sea is remote and positioned south and slightly east of New Zealand. 
  • It is the largest polar marine ecosystem in the world.
  • The Ross Sea is relatively shallow, and it accounts for an area of approximately 960,000 square km (370,000 square miles). 
  • A large portion of the sea is covered by the Ross Ice Shelf.
  • It is strongly influenced by the coastal East-Wind Drift that sets up a vast clockwise gyre accompanied by deep water upwelling. 
  • It is the first protected area in Antarctica and home to most of the world’s penguins and many species of whale.

Numerous scientific research stations are located along its coasts.

Q1: What is a Glacier?

A glacier is a large, perennial accumulation of crystalline ice, snow, rock, sediment, and often liquid water that originates on land and moves down slope under the influence of its own weight and gravity.

Source: Antarctica's France-Sized Ice Shelf Makes Daily Jumps, Raising Icequake Concern