What is an Iceberg? Facts and Information

Here are some facts about icebergs.

  • Icebergs are chunks of ice larger than 5 metres across, which form on the land before floating into the sea or a lake. They vary in size, some being several km across.
  • The liner Titanic sunk in April, 1912 after hitting an iceberg, killing over 1,500 passengers. After the accident, a permanent system of tracking icebergs was suggested.

  • After the Titanic disaster, the International Ice Patrol was founded to monitor icebergs in the Arctic and North Atlantic Oceans. Radar, aircraft and ships all help to track potentially dangerous icebergs.
  • Icebergs drift at an average speed of 0.7 kmph, although some move as fast as 3.6 kmph. Winds, ocean currents and the iceberg’s shape and size can all affect its speed.
  • One of the largest icebergs ever was seen in 1987 near Antarctica. Its area was 6,350 square km and if it melted, would provide enough water for everyone in the world for over a year.
  • About 90 percent of an iceberg is under the water.
  • Many larger icebergs are unstable and can roll or tip over easily, especially when they are melting.
  • When an iceberg or a piece of iceberg melts it makes a fizzing sound, similar to a fizzy drink. The sound is caused by the bursting of air bubbles trapped in the ice.
  • Icebergs typically last between three to six years, although some can last 50 years. They melt when they float into warmer waters or waves erode away the ice.
  • About 90 percent of icebergs in the North Atlantic originate off the coast of Western Greenland. There can be up to 15,000 icebergs in the Atlantic Ocean at any given time.The US based National Ice Center tracks and names each iceberg that originates in the Antarctic. The word iceberg comes from a Dutch word meaning mountain of ice.

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