Ken Smith, from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, and researchers from over a dozen institutions spent three month-long cruises in a part of Antarctica's Weddell Sea they dubbed "iceberg alley." Here, and elsewhere, more icebergs are breaking off ice shelves that extend from the continent. [Ice World: Gallery of Awe-Inspiring Glaciers]
Icebergs such as this one carry iron-rich sediment from Antarctica out into the Southern Ocean. The darker parts of the ice contain higher concentrations of sediment.
During the research team's 2009 cruise, the low Arctic sun cast the shadow of the research vessel Nathanial Palmer on the side of this large tabular iceberg.
Instead of avoiding icebergs, the research vessel Nathanial Palmer approached very closely to these floating "islands" of ice during this five-year research project.
Researchers programmed this Lagrangian sediment trap (the gray tube with white funnels) to sink 1969 feet (600 meters) below the surface as a large iceberg drifted overhead where it would collect sinking debris for about three days.
Researchers and crew members used a small boat to lift the trap carefully out of the water and then hoisted it onto their research vessel after it is done collecting samples.
Ken Smith (left), Alana Sherman (right), and other members of the research team examine a Lagrangian sediment trap after it was brought back on board the research vessel.
This small remotely operated vehicle (ROV) was customized to collect video and water samples underneath Antarctic icebergs.
Researchers launch the small remotely operated vehicle (ROV).
Researchers launched this remotely controlled plane from the deck of the research vessel Nathanial Palmer to collect video of icebergs and drop GPS tracking devices on top of icebergs.