Antarctic Fox
The log of Rachel and Kevin Fox's trip to the Antarctic Peninsula in the Summer of 2008-9
Day 2: Totally Tabular
December 27 - Enterprise Island, the Antarctic Peninsula

Directly from the wreck of the Governoren we sped off toward a huge tabular iceberg a few miles away. It was already after 11pm, but while the sun would set for an hour or two that night, it wouldn't go below the horizon until after 2am.

Meanwhile, the light was fantastic.

On the way to the tabular 'berg we came across an outcropping of rock with a few adelie penguins on it, resting from a day's fishing. The one perched atop the highest rock really did look like he was trying to give us directions.

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Once the penguins were done with us we resumed our journey toward the iceberg. From a distance it was hard to appreciate the true size of the thing, but as we narrowed the gap to the berg it began to tower over us, despite its being several times wider than it was tall!

Tabular bergs, the largest type of iceberg, are formed when a large portion of an ice shelf breaks off and starts to drift free. The ice shelves themselves, thick sheets of ice that extend from land and form over the antarctic seas, are often thousands to tens of thousands of years old and can be hundreds of feet thick. When they break off, the long table-like bergs (hence 'tabular') can drift for months or years, depending on weather conditions and currents.

While eventually the berg will break up in to smaller and smaller pieces, and will eventually turn and roll as its underside slowly melts away, tabular bergs have never turned, and the exposed edges are a history of thousands of years of snowfall packed down into dense snow and ice. When the berg does start to crack, the deep blues you can see inside are amazing, illuminated only by light passing through dozens to hundreds of feet of blue ice.

When looking at the scale of the berg in these pictures, it's good to keep in mind that only the top 1/8th of an iceberg is above the surface, and that the berg has seven times the mass hidden below the water line.

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This was the end to a very long day. It was a quarter past midnight when we got back on board the ship, and it didn't take long for us to get out of our gear and head for sleep. If today was any indication, we would need all the sleep we could get!

Read the next chapter: Day 3: Gentoo Cute


Table of Contents:

Introduction: Telling the Story posted Jan 10, 2009

Day 0: Positioning posted Jan 12, 2009

Leaving, on a jet plane posted Jan 12, 2009

Day 1: The Herc posted Jan 15, 2009

Day 1: Penguino posted Jan 16, 2009

Day 2: Chicken posted Jan 17, 2009

Day 2: Leopard posted Jan 19, 2009

Day 2: Snow Day posted Jan 22, 2009

Day 2: Shipwreck posted Jan 26, 2009

» Day 2: Totally Tabular posted Jan 27, 2009

Day 3: Gentoo Cute posted Jan 29, 2009

Day 3: Lichen Shag Glacier posted Feb 3, 2009

Day 3: Palmer Station Visit posted Feb 9, 2009

Day 4: Icy Penguins posted Feb 11, 2009

Day 4: Adelie Awesome posted Feb 15, 2009

Day 4: Leopard Seal Attack posted Feb 17, 2009

Day 4: Kayak posted Feb 19, 2009

Day 4: Vernadsky Station Visit posted Feb 23, 2009

Day 4: Vernadsky Sunset posted Feb 25, 2009

Day 5: Antarctic Circle posted Feb 27, 2009

Day 5: Polar Plunge posted Mar 5, 2009

Day 5: Mouth of The Gullet posted Mar 13, 2009

Day 5: Ice Camping posted Mar 18, 2009

Day 6: Flamingos on Ice posted Mar 20, 2009

Day 6: Mountain Climbing posted Mar 24, 2009

Day 6: Ice Textures posted Mar 26, 2009

Day 6: Antarctic New Years posted Apr 2, 2009

Day 7: Crystal Sound Icebreaker posted Apr 9, 2009

Day 7: Abandoned Antarctica: Base W - Part 1 posted Apr 17, 2009

Day 7: Abandoned Antarctica: Base W - Part 2 posted Apr 21, 2009

Day 8: Bird Watching in the Fish Islands posted Apr 23, 2009

Day 8: Icee Day - Part 1 posted May 5, 2009

Day 8: Icee Day - Part 2 posted May 11, 2009

Day 9: Port Lockroy - Base A posted May 20, 2009

Bonus Chapter: Baby Penguins! posted May 21, 2009

Day 9: Antarctic Humpback Whales posted June 3, 2009

Day 9: Dallmann Butt Sliding posted June 11, 2009

Day 10: Birthday Whales posted June 23, 2009

Day 10: Hannah Point Part 1: The Birds posted July 15, 2009

Day 10: Hannah Point Part 2: Elephant Seals posted July 22, 2009

Day 10: Deception Island - Part 1: Walking on the Moon posted Dec 11, 2009

Day 10: Deception Island - Part 2: The Martian Chronicles of Oz posted Dec 15, 2009

Day 11: Emperor Penguins posted Jan 8, 2010

Day 12: Black and White and Pink All Over posted Aug 4, 2011

More chapters posted every few days...



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