Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features the Weddell Sea, where the lost ship of Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton has been located after it was crushed by ice and sank more than 100 years ago.
“The discovery of Endurance on the floor of the Weddell Sea occurred on March 5, 2022 – late in the austral summer, after much of the sea ice around Antarctica had melted away,” reports NASA.
“Even during this annual low point for sea ice, the Weddell Sea retains at least some ice. One reason is that the Weddell reaches farther south than other parts of the Southern Ocean. This keeps the water colder and ice growing for a longer period in winter.”
“But the main reason relates to how the ice circulates with the winds and currents. Elsewhere around Antarctica, ice tends to drift north into warmer water and melt; in the Weddell Sea, it is usually caught up in a clockwise gyre.”
To assist in locating the lost ship, the South African polar research and logistics vessel S.A. Agulhas II cut a path through the ice on the Weddell Sea.
Endurance was discovered on March 5, 2022 at a depth of 9,869 feet. One week earlier, sea ice around Antarctica reached the lowest extent ever observed since the start of the satellite record in 1979, according to NASA.
Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory