Ice Flow

The middle of Antarctica is covered by an enormous ice sheet, two miles thick here at the South Pole. That means that all our buildings are sitting on ice… two miles of ice, before you reach earth and rock below us.

The ice doesn’t just sit there. Here at the pole, it’s flowing slowly (about 30 feet/year) toward the south Atlantic Ocean (40 degrees West longitude… the Weddell Sea). The whole South Pole station goes along for the ride, travelling 30 feet per year over the bottom of the earth.

The pole markers that I showed pictures of in my previous post are only accurate when they’re surveyed (using GPS). One month later, the marker is wrong by almost 3 feet! So, they survey every year and place a new pole marker in the ice on New Years Day; the old pole markers stretch out in a long line, slowly getting buried by the snow as the years pass.

It’s about 1000 miles from here to the ocean; at 30 feet per year, it’ll be 175,000 years before those pole markers – along with anything else we leave here in the snow – falls into the ocean.

Video: the moving pole markers.