Why do ice at the poles not float away?

In summary: No. The bulk of the southern ice cap is atop a land mass. The bulk of the northern ice cap is thin, floating and constrained by the surrounding land masses and ocean currents.
  • #1
655
2
as per the title. does anyone know?
 
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  • #2
Why would you think it doesn't?

ice%20berg.jpg


source

But as it floats away, new ice is formed in winter time.
 
  • #3
Also, most ice in the southern ice cap isn't floating...
 
  • #4
Check out http://nsidc.org/arcticmet/factors/land_sea_distribution.html" [Broken]

Read the section about ocean currents

Also, the map shows that the arctic ocean besides being almost completely surrounded by land it has warm surface currents feeding it from both North Atlantic and through the Bering Strait.
 
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  • #5
quietrain said:
does anyone know?

Apparently, the captain of the Titanic didn't...
 
  • #6
AlephZero said:
Apparently, the captain of the Titanic didn't...

hahaha that's classic, a quote to be remembered, almost tempted to use it in my signature

well done

Dave
 
  • #7
er

i meant as a whole, why do the ice caps not move away from the poles? not referring to those pieces of ices that break off and float away.

but like what russ said, the ice are not floating? so is it attached to the bottom of the sea floor or something? land masses don't float away because they are high altitude land, and attached to the Earth right? but what about these ice?

or is it like what andre said, where ice keeps moving away and melt , and new ice forms?

then wouldn't the animals like the polar bear be floating away too?
 
  • #8
well for the south pole Antarctica ia a huge landmass, it just happens to be covered in ice and snow --- more so in the winter time. In summer time there are plenty of areas that you can walk on dry land

Dave

PS ... what makes you think it would want to float away enmass ?
 
  • #9
quietrain said:
er

i meant as a whole, why do the ice caps not move away from the poles? not referring to those pieces of ices that break off and float away.

but like what russ said, the ice are not floating? so is it attached to the bottom of the sea floor or something?
land masses don't float away because they are high altitude land, and attached to the Earth right? but what about these ice?

or is it like what andre said, where ice keeps moving away and melt , and new ice forms?

then wouldn't the animals like the polar bear be floating away too?

My bold.

Ice at the south pole is partially atop a large landmass.
 
  • #10
It is floating. But it's already at the top of the world. (This answer brought to you by "When good physicists go bad.")

Seriously though: a) There's no net force to make it drift away from the north pole, en masse; b) There are some islands in the way; c) Anything that drifted too far south would melt, so you wouldn't notice any net drift; d) I wouldn't be suprised if melting at the edges provides a net force northwards (but I haven't worked that out); e) any net drift southwards would violate conservation of angular momentum (sloppily worded, but think about it); and f) Santa Claus doesn't let it drift (not to mention Kal-El).
 
  • #11
TheMadMonk said:
My bold.

Ice at the south pole is partially atop a large landmass.

As I had already said ;)


D
 
  • #12
davenn said:
As I had already said ;)


D

I didn't quite understand it at first, I struggle with my English. :redface:
 
  • #13
Do a google image search on: arctic polar cap

You'll see many images similar to the ones below, which show the ice mass around the north pole is connected to land and not simply floating:

polarcap.png


arctic-ice-satellite-picture-300x168.jpg
 
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  • #14
"... so is it attached to the bottom of the sea floor or something?"

If the ice-cap / glacier is thick enough, it remains grounded beyond the 'natural' coastline. If such an ice-shelf thins enough to float, warming sea-water can get underneath and may cause rapid melting, flexing, fracturing and 'calving' of mega-bergs.
 
  • #15
Most ice in the arctic ocean is drift ice. It is floating and moves according to the winds and currents. Sea ice is another word for drift ice.

Ice shelves are also technically floating although they are attached to the land so they don't move. Ice shelves are called "fast ice", because it is fastened to the land.

The reason only a limited amount of sea ice moves out of the arctic is because there is a lot of land encircling it and because the largest current goes in a circle; the Beaufort Gyre.
 
  • #16
oh cool

so the ice caps are acutally ice on top of land masses?

ic thanks
 
  • #17
No. The bulk of the southern ice cap is atop a land mass. The bulk of the northern ice cap is thin, floating and constrained by the surrounding land masses and ocean currents.
 
  • #18
Ophiolite said:
No. The bulk of the southern ice cap is atop a land mass. The bulk of the northern ice cap is thin, floating and constrained by the surrounding land masses and ocean currents.

oh, so there's no land in the north?

so i saw this documentary about the great melt, it says ice will melt during some time of the year.

so when it melts, wouldn't the north pole ice start to float around?
 
  • #19
quietrain said:
oh, so there's no land in the north?

so i saw this documentary about the great melt, it says ice will melt during some time of the year.

so when it melts, wouldn't the north pole ice start to float around?
Indeed it does. Icebergs float all down the coast of Newfoundland an Labrador. Some are very large. Even larger ice sheets move and bump against each other. But as a whole, the entire Arctic ice sheet is not entirely isolated from land. It encounter shorelines and runs deep where it encounters the ocean floor.
 
  • #21
wow thanks interesting stuffs
 
  • #22
I don't think there is a force large enough to singl-handedly move a large part of the northern pole away from its present position. But there are a number of forces acting to keep the ice at pole, including gravitational drift.
 

1. Why does ice at the poles not float away?

Ice at the poles does not float away because of the Earth's rotation and the gravitational pull of the Earth. The poles are located at the Earth's axis, where the force of gravity is the strongest. This keeps the ice in place and prevents it from drifting away.

2. How does the Earth's rotation affect ice at the poles?

The Earth's rotation creates a centrifugal force that pushes the ice towards the poles, keeping it in place. This force counteracts the gravitational pull, preventing the ice from floating away.

3. What role does the shape of the Earth play in keeping ice at the poles?

The Earth is not a perfect sphere, it is slightly flattened at the poles. This shape causes the gravitational pull to be stronger at the poles, keeping the ice in place despite the Earth's rotation.

4. Is there any other factor besides gravity and rotation that keeps ice at the poles?

The Earth's atmosphere also plays a role in keeping ice at the poles. The cold temperatures and strong winds create a barrier around the poles, making it difficult for ice to melt or drift away.

5. Will the ice at the poles ever completely melt or float away?

It is unlikely that the ice at the poles will completely melt or float away. The Earth's rotation and gravitational pull will continue to keep the ice in place, and any changes in the Earth's atmosphere would likely be gradual and not significant enough to cause the ice to melt or float away completely.

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