McMurdo Ice Shelf, Antarctica

Introduction

This comprehensive compilation of photographs records many of the key characteristics of a very unusual ice shelf. It has been described as “the strangest ice shelf in the world” on account of its upper surface being littered with dead organisms and being riven by deep meltwater channels. As shown in the Landsat image, the McMurdo Ice Shelf adjoins the Ross Ice Shelf on the right (east), and extends from Minna Bluff to Scott Base on Ross Island, being almost split by two islands, White Island on the left and Black Island on the right, due north of Minna Bluff. The ice shelf grows from local snow accumulation areas around the islands, but especially from basal freeze-on of marine ice. Organisms trapped in the base work their way to the top surface because of melting.

Introduction
Landsat image of the McMurdo Sound and Ice Shelf region. Source: LIMA/US Geological Survey/British Antarctic Survey.
Introduction
Image without annotation.
The photographs emphasise our work to the immediate north of Minna Bluff, but also include elements of activities near Scott Base (close to McMurdo), a surface traverse to Minna Bluff and the flight back. All photographs were taken by Michael Hambrey, mostly during November-December 2011, on a New Zealand research project led by Sean Fitzsimons (University of Otago). We acknowledge the splendid support that was received from Antarctica New Zealand and the staff of Scott Base.