Bay of Whales, Antarctic


This image is based on a Landsat scene already two months old but none the less seems interesting enough to feature here. It shows the Bay of Whales at the Antarctic coast which is the southmost point of open ocean on Earth.

The bay is located north of Roosevelt Island at the front of the Ross ice shelf. The island and a few smaller ones around create an indention in the front of the ice shelf forming the bay.

Due to the movement of ice the form of the bay changes continuously and it also vanishes completely from time to time. The ice moves several hundred meters per year in this area and where it touches the islands it buckles and cracks as can be seen in the following detail images. From time to time, on the scale of several years/decades huge chunks of ice break off forming large tabular icebergs sometimes several hundred kilometers long.

The weather is fairly clear over the ice but over water the interaction of the relatively warm water with the much colder air produces clouds and also leads to the formation of the first new sea ice in the Ross Sea that is usually largely ice free during summer.

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