Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ross Island

Ross Island.  McMurdo Sound is visible to the left. Green=ice shelf.

Ross Island is an island formed by four volcanoes in the McMurdo Sound. It is about 45 miles wide and about 25 miles off the coast of the Antarctic mainland. Because of the persistent presence of the ice sheet, the island is sometimes taken to be part of Antarctica. Sir James Clark Ross discovered it in 1841, and it was later named in honor of him by Robert F. Scott. 

The Earth’s southernmost active volcano, Erebus (3,794 m/12,448 ft), as well as the dormant volcano Terror (3,230 m/10,597 ft), are situated on the island. They were named by Ross after his ships HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. 

Scott’s 1911 hut (built for the ill-fated Terra Nova expedition) at Cape Evans, with Erebus in the background (source).

Ross Island has been used as a base for a hundred years because it has a large amount of rocky, snow-free land and it is the farthest-south land in Antarctica accessible by ship (although open ocean doesn't reach McMurdo every year). It was the base for many of the early expeditions to Antarctica. Huts built by Scott's (1902, 1911) and Shackleton's (1908) expeditions are still standing on the island, preserved as historical sites.

The nose of the Barne Glacier on Ross Island (located between Shackleton's and Scott's 1911 hut).
It is from the front of glaciers like this that icebergs calve off (source).

Antarctica's largest science base, the United States' McMurdo Station, as well as New Zealand’s Scott Base are located on the island’s south shore.

next episode: McMurdo Station


  1. We have a Ross Island in Portland, Oregon, but it's not beautiful like this one.

    1. So far I've counted 6 Ross Islands, he must have been a busy man :-)


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