A Taste of Antarctic Ice Tongues

On our journey across the Southern Ocean, we flew directly over the Drygalski Ice Tongue!

An ice tongue forms when a glacier that is confined by a valley moves very rapidly out into a lake or (in this case) ocean, relative to other ice along the coastline. The ice tongue is actually a part of a glacier that is floating on the ocean.

When an ice tongue surges past adjacent coastal ice, the boundary experiences physical forces described as “shearing”. Look for the sheared, zig-zag edge of the Drygalski ice tongue in the timelapse video below.

Here are some amazing facts about the Drygalski Ice Tongue:

  1. It is the largest ice tongue in the world!
  2. It reaches 70 kilometers (43 miles) out to sea from the David Glacier
  3. It ranges from 14 to 24 kilometers (9 to 15 miles) wide
  4. It is thought to be at least 4,000 years old
  5. The David Glacier grounding line, where the ice leaves the shore and begins to float, is in a depth of ~1,900 m (6,200 ft)
  6. In 2016 a 30 km (19 mi) long section of the ice shelf calved to form two large icebergs
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