Ross Ice Shelf

Overview

Introduction

Like thick syrup pouring over the top of a bowling ball, ice slowly and relentlessly moves down from the South Pole plateau to the edges of the Antarctic continent. One such edge culminates in the Ross Ice Shelf, a thick layer of ice that covers much of McMurdo Sound—the side of Antarctica directly below Australia and New Zealand. Cruises to this area enable visitors to see this immense wall of ice, in some places hundreds of feet/meters high, resembling the walls of a glittering white fortress. Periodically, parts of the wall shear off—a process known as calving—and a new iceberg is born. The coastal area produces many icebergs, some as large as the U.S. state of Rhode Island. McMurdo Sound, which is covered in ice up to 2,300 ft/700 m thick, is home to the major research stations of McMurdo and Scott, as well as Mount Erebus.

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