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Ice, water and mountains.
Photo Credit: Ryan Wallace

Cracking up

Ice in McMurdo Sound breaks up in dramatic fashion not seen since 1998

The sea ice in McMurdo Sound has broken up to an extent not seen since 1998. The calving of a huge iceberg in 2000 off the Ross Ice Shelf had clogged the mouth of McMurdo Sound for much of the decade, preventing the pack ice from blowing out. The main iceberg broke apart in 2005. The additional ice in McMurdo Sound not only made it more difficult to reach McMurdo Station External U.S. government site on Ross Island, but also hampered foraging by an Adélie penguin colony at Cape Royds. [See previous article: Population pressures: Changes in Ross Sea environment, fishery cause demographic shift in species.] The ice this year has broken out so far into McMurdo Sound that McMurdo's Fleet Operations and Fuels departments will need to relocated part of the Pegasus airfield External U.S. government site road, seen in the foreground of the picture above, and fuel tanks for safety reasons. The timing is unfortunate, to say the least, as the summer field season winds down and the U.S. Antarctic Program External U.S. government site attempts to fly the remainder of its summer crew north amid the chaos of the earthquake in Christchurch. [See USAP announcement: New Zealand Earthquake: Updates and Impact on the USAP External U.S. government site.]