Byrd Glacier, Antarctica
Just as rivers drain the continents, rivers also drain Antarctica—only in this frozen landscape, the rivers are ice. In some places, steep mountains channel the flowing ice sheets and compress them into fast-moving rivers of ice. The Byrd Glacier is one such place. Byrd Glacier flows through a deep valley in the Transantarctic Mountains, covering a distance of 180 kilometers and descending more than 1,300 meters as it flows from the polar plateau (left) to the Ross Ice Shelf (right). The fast-moving stream is one of the largest contributors to the shelf’s total ice volume. In this Landsat 7 image from 2000, long, sweeping flow lines are crossed in places by much shorter lines, which are deep cracks in the ice called crevasses. The conspicuous red patches indicate areas of exposed rock. Byrd Glacier is located near the principal U.S. Antarctic Research Base at McMurdo Station, and it is named after the American Antarctic explorer Richard E. Byrd.