Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Birth of an Iceberg

The British Antarctic Survey's Halley Research Station is famous for discovering the hole in the ozone layer. The hole in the ozone layer was first discovered at Halley in 1985. Measurements of ozone have been made at Halley every year since the base was established in 1956. Unfortunately a crack in the Brunt Ice Shelf led to the station being abandoned over the winter of 2017. This evacuation of the station led to a gap in the station's historical records of ozone levels.

You can learn more about the crack in the Brunt Ice Shelf from ABC's fascinating The Making of an Iceberg. In 2013 a rift in the ice shelf began cracking near the British base. This rift has since grown so large that eventually it will slice off a large area of the Brunt Ice Shelf and create a gigantic iceberg. The ABC story makes use of satellite imagery to show the perpetual drift of the glacier, the cracks that have appeared in recent years and the size of other large icebergs which have calved off the Brunt Ice Shelf and from other ice shelves.

You can learn more about the amazing Halley Research Station on the British Antarctic Survey website. Halley VI, the current station, is a huge structure consisting of eight modules. Each of these modules are jacked up on large hydraulic legs which keep the station above any accumulation of snow. Giant retractable skis on the bottom of these hydraulic legs allow the scientists to move the station when cracks in the ice shelf might threaten the station.

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