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Planet Earth usually doesn’t like right angles or draw in straight lines. Mountains are rarely perfectly vertical or horizontal, flat areas of land has its nooks and crannies, and the idea of an iceberg is traditionally imagined as a weird mirrored pyramid.
But this block of ice is proving this notion false.
NASA’s IceBridge project, which monitors the shelves across the Antarctic, last week tweeted an image of a rectangular iceberg during a flyby of the continent’s northern Peninsula area. NASA’s official account retweeted it on Wednesday.
From yesterday’s #IceBridge flight: A tabular iceberg can be seen on the right, floating among sea ice just off of the Larsen C ice shelf. The iceberg’s sharp angles and flat surface indicate that it probably recently calved from the ice shelf. pic.twitter.com/XhgTrf642Z
— NASA ICE (@NASA_ICE) 17 October 2018
If this wasn’t posted on an official account, you’d probably think it to be fake, but no, it’s real. It also received more than 22 000 likes, and 11 300 comments, as the internet community questioned its validity.
“This is natural!?!?!?” tweeted BBC News’ Simon McCoy.
This is natural!?!?!?
— Simon McCoy (@BBCSimonMcCoy) 23 October 2018
It’s a rare occurrence too, according to IceBridge scientist Jeremy Harbeck, who snapped the photo.
“I thought it was pretty interesting; I often see icebergs with relatively straight edges, but I’ve not really seen one before with two corners at such right angles like this one had,” he said.
This ‘tabular’ iceberg has become a social media star, thanks to NASA’s Twitter accounts
The “tabular” iceberg comes from the same area of the Antarctic that birthed the A68 iceberg in 2017, which too became a social media star earlier this year. It was larger than Cape Town and Johannesburg.
“I was actually more interested in capturing the A68 iceberg that we were about to fly over, but I thought this rectangular iceberg was visually interesting and fairly photogenic, so on a lark, I just took a couple photos,” Harbeck added.
Twitter, of course, had its own ideas of how the iceberg formed. Some were farfetched, others were…
— Sloth (@sloth4z) 22 October 2018
— MR DEERSKIN MOCCASINS (@ILLDEVISED) 22 October 2018
I just want to build a castle. pic.twitter.com/dPzdUnOa3V
— 陳野 (@hkchanyan) 23 October 2018
— Brian Curry (@BCurry617) 24 October 2018
…well, you decide.
Feature image: Jeremy Harbeck/NASA