Let's Talk Science: Nunataks

Welcome to our blog series, “Let’s Talk Science,” where we break down the science behind our team’s work. Last week, we talked about how we look for certain things in the ice to improve our mapping and eventually begin measuring how the ice has changed. But how do we find those clues? One way to find clues is to find nunataks!


Nunataks, besides being really fun to say, are areas of rock that have peaked out from under the ice. When you look out over a wide expanse of ice, you may see a little bit of brown rock along the mountains and ridges from time to time. That’s a nunatak!

You see, even though the ice looks big and hard to move, it is actually changing all the time. Sometimes, areas of rock are covered up by the ice. Other times, the ice moves or changes, and these areas become nunataks.

Have you ever been to the beach? Did you see sea shells in the sand? Nunataks are like those sea shells. Waves make the sand on the beach move around. Sometimes, the sand covers up the sea shells and they are hidden. Other times, a wave comes and shifts the sand just enough for you to see the shell. Unfortunately, our team isn’t quite as warm hunting for nunataks as they would be hunting for shells!

When out team finds a nunatak, they are very excited. At the nunatak, they can find the clues we need to learn more about the ice (see last blog here!). Our team takes samples of the rocks to figure out how the ice has changed, when it changed, and much more. We can learn a lot from these samples!

Got a science question for us? Leave it here and we can answer it for you. Maybe we’ll even feature it in our blog!

#LetsTalkScience #Nunatak #Mapping

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