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Glaciers from the Air

SOUTH POLE STATION, ANTARCTICA– On our flight to the South Pole, the view out the tiny windows on the LC-130 are mostly of a flat, white, vast ice scape. But there are some interesting features on the polar plateau; alerted by a fellow passenger I caught a glimpse of the Byrd Glacier. Named after American Antarctic explorer Richard Byrd, this fast-moving river of ice flows through the valleys of the Transantarctic Mountains. At 15 miles wide, it’s one of the largest outlet glaciers that drain ice from East Antarctica to the Ross Ice Shelf.

A little later in the flight, I took this short video of the Beardmore glacier, flowing through the snow covered mountains. The glacier was discovered by Ernest Shackleton in 1908 during his failed attempt to reach the pole. The mountains on either side of the Beardmore contain a treasure-trove of dinosaur fossils and was one of the earlier study sites for paleoecologist Allan Ashworth who uncovered fossils in ancient lake sediments there.

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