AAT Icebergs

Including all its islands and ice shelves, Antarctica is nearly twice the size of Australia, covering 13,661,000 square kilometres. The Australian Antarctic Territory is 5,896,500 square kilometres, or 42 per cent of the region. Antarctica is the driest, windiest and coldest continent on earth with the lowest earth temperature ever recorded (89.2°C) at Vostok, in the AAT, in 1983. Antarctica and its surrounding ocean are dominated and shaped by the presence of snow and ice.

Literally meaning ice mountain, an iceberg is a large piece of ice formed from freshwater that has broken off from a snow-formed glacier or ice-shelf and is fl oating in open water. The size of icebergs varies and can range from between one and 75 metres above sea level. The largest recorded icebergs have been carved, or broken off, from the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica.

Iceberg B-15, when photographed in 2000, measured 295 km long by 37 km wide, with a surface area of 11,000 kilometres. Icebergs are generally described by shape and include tabular, dome, pinnacle, wedge and dry-dockan eroded iceberg resulting in a “hole”. Only one-tenth of the volume of an iceberg is usually above water, and its underwater portion can be diffi cult to judge by looking at the portion above the surface. Icebergs are monitored worldwide by the US National Ice Centre (NIC), established in 1995. The organisation names and tracks all Antarctic icebergs.

The stamps in this issue capture the beauty of icebergs, revealing their different shapes, colours, effects and textures.