Perfectly rectangular iceberg found in Antarctica


Two squared-off icebergs appear in this image, one over to the right and the other above the plane.

NASA's IceBridge aircraft spotted the iceberg during a routine aerial survey. 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. Sitting amid a chaotic jumble of floating ice, it looks perfectly rectangular, as though it was deliberately cut.

Ice shelves are full of fractures and fissures, explains geophysicist Kristin Poinar from the University at Buffalo.

As for the size of the iceberg NASA photographed, Brunt said it's possibly more than a mile across - but it hasn't been measured yet. Once they split from an ice shelf, they are often geometric in shape.

In an image posted to Twitter, the iceberg looks to be a near-perfect rectangle, which NASA says indicates it must have recently broke off from the ice shelf and hasn't yet been hit by wind and waves.

And, as with all icebergs, the part visible on the surface comprises just a small fraction of the object's mass - in this case about 10%.

But, he added that "the presence of icebergs like these are a sign of increased calving".

Why?: Kelly Brunt, an ice scientists from NASA, told Live Science there's a reason for the iceberg appearing like a ideal rectangle.

Experts said the striking ice-formation is completely natural, created as ice breaks away from an ice shelf.

"If you look at the recent icebergs that calved of iceberg A-68 (near Larsen C), you will see that many of them have pretty "rectangularish" shapes". Larsen A collapsed in 1995, and Larsen B collapsed in 2002.

The unusual mass, known as an angular iceberg, was spotted during a flyover of the east coast of the Antarctic Peninsula.

The Larsen C ice shelf is being closely monitored by scientists after showing signs of breaking up.

Figuring out exactly how climate change affects Antarctic ice, though, remains challenging, according to Bartholomaus.