Amery Ice Shelf
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The Amery Ice Shelf (Coordinates: ) is a broad ice shelf in Antarctica at the head of Prydz Bay between the Lars Christensen Coast and Ingrid Christensen Coast. It is part of Mac. Robertson Land. The name "Cape Amery" was applied to a coastal angle mapped on February 11, 1931 by the British Australian New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition (BANZARE) under Douglas Mawson. He named it for William Bankes Amery, a civil servant who represented the United Kingdom government in Australia (1925–28). The Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names interpreted this feature to be a portion of an ice shelf and, in 1947, applied the name Amery to the whole shelf.
In 2001 two holes were drilled through the ice shelf by scientists from the Australian Antarctic Division and specially designed seabed sampling and photographic equipment was lowered to the underlying seabed. By studying the fossil composition of sediment samples recovered, scientists have inferred that a major retreat of the Amery Ice Shelf to at least 80 km landward of its present location may have occurred during the mid-Holocene climatic optimum (about 5,700 years ago).
In December 2006, it was reported by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that Australian scientists were heading to the Amery Ice Shelf to investigate enormous cracks that had been forming for over a decade at a rate of three to five metres a day. These fractures threaten to break off a 1000 square kilometre piece of the Amery Ice Shelf. Scientists want to discover what is causing the cracks, as there has not been similar activity since the 1960s. However, the head of research believes that it is too early to attribute the cause to Global Warming as there is the possibility of a natural 50-60 year cycle being responsible.
The Amery Basin () is an undersea basin north of the Amery Ice Shelf.
- Hemer, M.A., Harris, P.T., 2003. Sediment core from beneath the Amery Ice Shelf, East Antarctica, suggests mid-Holocene ice-shelf retreat. Geology 31, 127-130
- Australians to study giant Antarctic ice cracks at ABC News Online (Friday, December 8, 2006. 6:29pm)
- This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Geological Survey document "Amery Ice Shelf" (content from the Geographic Names Information System).
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