What’s Going On With That Bizarre Rectangular Iceberg?

An iceberg recently spotted by NASA scientists looks like it was carefully cut into a perfect rectangle, and it’s getting a lot of attention because of those unexpected angles and straight lines.


It looks nothing like the craggy, uneven mass that sunk the Titanic, perhaps the most famous iceberg ever.

But in fact, there is little that is particularly unusual about the iceberg photographed floating near the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica, as sea ice specialist Alek Pettyexplains. He’s a research scientist with NASA’s Operation IceBridge, the group that took the stunning photo, and is based at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

He says it’s a kind of formation called a tabular iceberg. They form in Antarctica, he says, “where we have these really wide floating ice shelves connected to land.” The ice is “being kind of spread out in this very thin layer,” Petty says, and “because it’s ice and it’s brittle, if that gets too weak or it comes into contact with something else, it can shatter and kind of break apart.”

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