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mosaic image of Antarctica

LIMA Challenge
Spring 2008 NASA Quest Challenge!

Proposal by Colin
From Hill Homeschool

Chosen Ice Feature:  Icebergs trapped in fast ice
Each individual berg shown here is hundreds of meters across and forms when outlet glaciers discharge into the oceans surrounding Antarctica. These bergs have been trapped in fast ice that holds them stationary for years allowing wind and snow to round iceberg edges, giving them a softer appearance.

photo of site chosen by student

West Antarctica near Land Glacier off Nickerson Ice Shelf (75 °S, 143°W)

map of antarctica indicating site location

     I chose this ice feature (icebergs trapped in fast ice), because I think that it is interesting. I think that it is interesting because it is kind of  surprising that ice could move fast enough to catch up to the icebergs.  I would have thought the icebergs would be moving faster than the ice. Icebergs move at an average speed of 0.4 mph, but the speed of the iceberg is affected by several things, including size, shape, ocean currents, waves and wind. Although icebergs float in saltwater oceans, they are made of freshwater. More than two thirds of the Earths freshwater exist in the form of glaciers, icebergs, and ice caps. Fast ice, or land– fast ice, is frozen seawater that does not move with currents or wind. Seawater freezes at about 28.8 degrees Fahrenheit and attaches to the coast or icebergs. In the Arctic seas the fast ice usually extends to depths of about 20 meters.  Grounded icebergs sometimes serve as anchors for this fast ice. The topography of fast ice varies from very smooth to rugged. These are all reasons that I think that it is scientifically interesting.

      I think that this ice feature was created by seasonal patterns and climate change because as it gets colder more of the ocean freezes over and traps the icebergs until summer comes and it warms up and the ocean melts back into water.  Every year there have been enough new icebergs created in Antarctica to supply freshwater to the worlds six billion inhabitants and every industry in the world for four months.  Therefore, I think that seasonal patterns are the geological processes occurring to create this ice feature.

     The potential benefits of further investigating this area of Antarctica include: discovering the process of how the icebergs are trapped, how fast the ice grows, and the rate of melting.  This is critical when attempting to analyze the change in weather patterns for the entire earth and the effects of Global Warming.    As Global Warming is growing into a bigger threat to Antarctica and the world more icebergs are being created by the higher temperatures and there is a shorter time period in which the icebergs are trapped in fast ice. As Global warming progresses we can track how fast the world climate is changing by the lessening of icebergs trapped in fast ice and the time period in which they are frozen.  In conclusion, this proposal lists many critical factors to our world today and in the future why our expedition and research should be funded. 

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NASA Official: Liza Coe
Last Updated: May 2005
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