SIMON FRASER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SIMON FRASER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Massive ice floes off the coast of Spitsbergen. The floe in the foreground has two pools of melt- water on it, indicating a spring thaw. These floes originated in the Arctic ice sheet. The sheet reaches its maximum size in winter. As the spring thaw progresses, the periphery of the ice sheet breaks up, and the resulting floes drift southward. Although the dynamics of ice movement are not fully understood, it is known that the floes move under the influence of winds, unlike icebergs which move with ocean currents. Spitsbergen is an island in the Svalbard chain, some 800km north of Norway. Its northernmost point is slightly above 80 degrees North latitude.
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