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Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

Scientists may soon explain the mys-terious behaviour of some icebergs. They have discovered a submerged "ice foot" extending more than 50 metres (m) out to sea from the wall of a glacier. This could explain why icebergs sometimes suddenly come up to the ocean surface in unexpec-ted places. Researchers suspect that glaciers have ice feet because ice-bergs can emerge as far as a quarter of a kilometre away from a glacier. But there is always a danger of ice-bergs breaking away from glaciers, both above and below the water line. This has prevented scientists from visiting these regions. But for the first time, an uncrewed submersible enabled them to take a close-up look at the base of a glacier in Glacier Bay, Alaska. It found that an ice foot extended to about 55 metres from the bottom of the glacial cliff. Lewis Hunter, researcher at the Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, New Hampshire, UK, hopes to see water and ice interaction at depths of 35 to 50 m (New Scientist, Vol 158, No 2138).

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