Shackleton Centenary Expedition

Professor David Drewry: The Glaciology Project July 10 2007

Canadian radar satellite image of the Beardmore Glacier

The Beardmore Glacier is one of the largest "outlet" glaciers of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet and cuts through the Transantarctic Mountains in a valley some 250km long and up to 40km wide.

Ice flows 500km from the inner reaches of the ice sheet, between the South Pole and Dome Argus, converging to pass through the narrow defile of the Beardmore. At this point the ice is moving at some 400m per year.

This ice flows out of the mouth of the Beardmore Glacier and into the Ross Sea where it merges with ice coming from other significant outlet glaciers to form a massive plate of floating, moving ice - the Ross Ice Shelf - the size of France (550 000km2).

This makes the Beardmore Glacier along with the other outlets the most dynamic part of the ice sheet system transporting ice from the interior of the Antarctic to the edge of the ice shelf where it is lost through the calving of massive icebergs - a total journey of some 2000km.

This is the second of six articles by Professor Drewry. Click here for the next installment.

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