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Did You Know: Icebergs

Icebergs originate on land.
Credits

Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with the NASA Earth Observatory (https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/).
 
Story adapted from Image of the Day post by Kathryn Hansen:
https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/92144/when-land-ice-meets-sea-ice

  • Photo of Scoresby Sound, Greenland (Linette Boisvert, Operation IceBridge, NASA’s P-3 Orion Aircraft)
  • Photo of Kangerdlugssuaq Glacier, Greenland (Landsat 7 satellite)
  • Photo of the Fjord of the Kangerdlugssuaq Glacier, Greenland (Linette Boisvert, Operation IceBridge, NASA’s P-3 Orion Aircraft)
  • Written by Margaret Carruthers
Transcript

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Text, Did you know? Icebergs.
 
Icebergs originate on land. A mound of snow in the middle of a frozen patch of ocean surrounded by small cracks. Icebergs are islands of frozen fresh water that float freely on the ocean.
 
Unlike sea ice, which is frozen seawater, icebergs originate on land. Arrows point out the iceberg as the frozen mound surrounded by sea ice with patches of ocean water visible. Scoresby Sound, Greenland. Linette Boisvert, Operation IceBridge, NASA's P-3 Orion Aircraft.
 
Over the course of many years, snow accumulates and is compacted into ice, forming a glacier. Snow capped peaks weave a network of inflows to a frozen river. The glacial ice flows slowly downhill toward the ocean. When it reaches the sea, cracks in the glacier widen as warm water melts the icea from below, while warm air melts it from above. Kangerdiugssuaq Glacier, Greeland, Landsat 7 satellite.
 
When the cracks become large enough, pieces of ice break off, fall into the sea, and drift in the water as icebergs. A section is circled just at the end of the glacier where it transforms into a river with tiny icebergs seen flowing downstream. Icebergs in a fjord.
 
Fjord of the Kangerdiugssuaq Glacier, Greenland. Linette Boisvert, Operation IceBridge, NASA's P-3 Orion Aircraft.