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The Amundsen Sea

The Thwaites Ice Tongue is a large sheet of glacial ice extending from the West Antarctic mainland into the southern Amundsen Sea. A large crack was discovered in imagery from Terra’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). Subsequent widening of the crack led to the calving of a large iceberg.
The B-22 iceberg, located below and to the left of image center, measures approximately 82 kilometers long x 62 kilometers wide. Comparison of the two images shows the berg to have drifted away from the ice shelf edge.

Amundsen Sea is located along the western Antarctic coast between Ross Sea and Bellingshausen Sea. Compared to the Cosmonaut and Lazarev Seas, the Amundsen Sea has a much broader shelf. Off the shelf, the sea floor is structured by the Amundsen Ridge and the Marie-Byrd Seamounts.


Besides Amundsen Sea, a lot of locations were named after the Norwegian explorer and navigator Roald Amundsen in Antarctica: Mount Amundsen, Amundsen Bay, Amundsen Coast, Amundsen Glacier, Amundsen Icefall, and Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.


Marie-Byrd Land is the hinterland of the Amundsen Sea. The extended Ford Ranges lie in the northwestern part of this area. The region was discovered and claimed for the United States by Richard E. Byrd in 1929. Much of this area was explored during the second Byrd expedition (1933-35) and the U.S. Antarctic Service Expedition (1939-41).


A persistent low-pressure center off the coast of the Amundsen Sea facilitates inland moisture transport and causes a peak in ice accumulation along the Amundsen Sea coast. There are currently no meteorological stations in the interior of the Amundsen Sea sector, thus, there is a lack of weather and climate data.


Recently, a new iceberg of roughly 650 square kilometers in area has calved from the Pine Island Glacier in the Amundsen Sea. The iceberg has moved northwest since calving from the glacier. Generally, iceberg names are derived from the Antarctic quadrant in which they were first sighted.


The plate-tectonic reconstruction of the Amundsen Sea is one of the most interesting geophysical and geological challenges in recent days. During the last years, new geophysical initiatives were started in the Amundsen Sea by several institutions to overcome the lack of knowledge on the tectonic and sedimentary evolution of the basins and the continental margin.



Main islands and island groups

Burk Island, Grant Island, Carney Island, Pine Island, Sherman Island, Siple Island



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