Antarctica and that blue, blue ice


I’ve just returned from Antarctica. I saw many breathtaking scenes that I am still dreaming about.

But the real reason I went there was the icebergs. I’ve always been fascinated by them and they were initially what lured me to Antarctica.

Well I certainly got my dose of those. 100’s of them – large and small – they were all spectacular.

I particularly loved the larger ones – such tall, powerful structures that drift in the peaceful stillness of the waters of the 5th largest continent.

I couldn’t keep my eyes off them. Being down low in the zodiac, it felt very surreal, as if I was in another world and at one with the ice.

Its almost as if time has forgotten them.

Why are some of the icebergs blue? Well its really all about compression of the ice and the colour spectrum.

Icebergs come from glaciers, which are formed by continual ice and snow. Snowflakes (frozen water) form and then become cystalized. A snowflake is a multi faceted crystal and these facets reflect light. As snow accumulates on the glacier huge amounts of air is trapped.

The blue colour occurs in ice that is generally hundred’s to thousand’s of years old. Continual compression as the glacier moves and heads towards the sea plus the continual thawing and refreezing of the ice causes the air that was originally trapped by the falling snow to be expelled. The ability to reflect light (and therefore appear white ) only exists when there is air trapped between the snow crystals. This very old, very dense ice is no longer capable of reflecting light .

Light that now hits the iceberg no longer reflects off it, it is absorbed by it. The weaker wavelengths of light are quickly filtered out (red, orange, yellow, green.) The blue wavelength has enough energy to reflect from, or penetrate deep within the iceberg therefore giving it that gorgeous blue colour……

Cool huh? πŸ™‚

These photos were taken at Cierva Cove, Antarctica. 64.16S 60.89W. Don’t forget to click on the photos to enlarge them…

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11 thoughts on “Antarctica and that blue, blue ice

  1. Oh how superb to be able to compare and contrast and that blue . . . thank you for explaining the how and why . . . your camera truly has been in Dreamtime . . .

  2. Hi Chris,

    Here is the link to the NSW wine festival.

    Sent from Samsung tabletBernasconiphotography’s Blog wrote:

  3. Thank you for sharing such beautiful pictures! I love the blue and gray. It looks so other worldly! I look forward to seeing more of your amazing work. Cheers!

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