Great Ross Ice Barrier


    THE problems of origin, maintenance and wastage of the Great Ross Barrier of the ross sea are the subject of a detail study by Prof. F. Debenham in the Geographical Journal of april 1949.The studies have been much advanced by the observations and measurement made by recent American expeditions, roughly speaking, the width of the ice-area reaches 400 miles, and its north and south length, on its widest eastern side, 700 miles. It is a vast raft of ice, thin compared with its area, loosely held by its bounding lands and more securely moored by islands and shoals. It is slowly moving towards the Ross Sea, but at a rate that varies in different parts of its front. At the free edge the rate may reach 15 ft. per day. This is due to accessions of snow and also by the creeping, or slumping, of the ice under its own weight. But the most striking part of the paper deals with the likelihood of accretions in thickness due to growth by freezing of the waters below the Barrier. Several phenomena support the belief that this freezing does occur ; for example, the marine plants and shells on the surface of the ice, patches of mirabilite (sodium sulphate) originating in minor bottom depressions when freezing concentrates the water and precipitates the minerals, and lastly curious remains of fishes found on the surface but clearly emanating from seal attacks in the water. These sources of evidence are fully discussed in this paper, as well as the rise of the Barrier ice, as it grows and its outward flow.

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    Great Ross Ice Barrier. Nature 163, 987 (1949).

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