Antarctica’s amazing striped icebergs

When you think of Antarctica, pristine white icebergs usually come to mind; probably the last thing you’d expect are humbug-like striped icebergs, with blue, green, yellow and even brown.

The different colours appear due to various reasons, but generally speaking they appear because some layers of ice form in special conditions. Blue stripes are the most common, and they appear when crevices are filled with water and they freeze so fast that no bubbles are formed. However, things are different with the other ones.

Green appears because the water that freezes is extremely rich in algae, hence the colour. Brown, yellow, and even black stripes are caused by sediments picked up along the way when the ice sheet was sliding downhill.

They’re not exactly rare, but quite uncommon still. It was Norwegian sailor Oyvind Tangen, on board a research ship that first photographed and described these glaciers (from what I was able to find, I’m not quite sure however). Anyway, they’re an astonishing sight by any standards, and it’s easy to understand why sailors have pictured them as humbugs. If you’re ever lucky enough to go to Antarctica, keep an eye out – you just might see one of these awesome wonders !

Picture sources 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Andrei’s background is in geophysics, and he published his first scientific paper when he was still an undergrad; now, his main focus is on how geology and geophysics can be applied to understand and protect the environment. Feeling that there is a gap between scientists and the general audience, he started ZME Science – and the results are what you see today.

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  • Andrew

    Very very cool. Never heard about these before.

  • Ahmed

    Awesome photos of some real great places. Thanks Mihae for sharing nice brief detail about them.

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  • I_Love_Ads

    Can you please find ways to pop-up even more ads on your site? The beautiful photos you’ve posted are magnificent as they get shoved aside, covered, obscured, and scrolled over by the ads. Perfect! Maybe one of those fake “corner peeling” ads? Or a dialog box or page hijacker to make your site totally inaccessible until readers close the ads? That would make these pictures really pop!

  • Tibi Puiu

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