Icebergs have been famous long before Leonardo Di Caprio and Kate Winslet started to worry about them. One of the most beautiful constructs of nature icebergs are both important to our ecosystem and pose a risk to many lives. Read on to learn more about how they are made, their beauty, and their peril.
The Titanic was famously sunk by a rogue iceberg in 1912. If you have watched the movie then you will likely remember the shipowners wanting to set a new record for speed so they pushed the boat to high speeds as it charted waters that were dangerous. This is sadly how the Titanic came to be sunk and while many people blamed the “unsinkable ship” for sinking, it was the fault of people, not the ship. In reality, the Titanic was rarely called the unsinkable ship before it sunk, this was something that was mentioned far more after it went down. The Titanic went down close to Newfoundland in an area that is well known as and was equally well known at the time as, Iceberg Alley. Prior to the sinking of the Titanic between the years 1882 – 1890 14 passenger liners sank in this stretch of water. Without careful navigation, it is easy to understand why the Titanic faced the same issue.
Icebergs are large enough to take down any ship. To be considered an iceberg and not just a pile of ice, the ice must be at least 16 feet across. The majority of icebergs are far larger below sea level than they are above. The average iceberg has 90% of the iceberg under the water with just 10% above. This is where the expression “tip of the iceberg” comes from and what causes them to be so deadly. The Titanic could have ripped through the small block of ice that it hit if it didn’t have the additional mass of 9 times more ice waiting below.
While icebergs are deadly they are also incredibly useful. Most people now use the melting rate of icebergs to determine how much trouble our climate is in. If you read a report about the rate of iceberg melt it is likely showing that the rate is increasing too quickly meaning that the local ecosystems are in danger and that water levels around the world are set to rise. Icebergs could also save your life if you ever stranded near them. While you can’t drink seawater to survive icebergs are actually formed by snow so they don’t contain seawater, they contain freshwater. A tip that we hope you will never have to rely on. Of course in most disaster situations people are stranded on desert islands, not on icebergs, but you never know.
The largest iceberg to date is called the Iceberg B-15. It is over 7,000 square kilometers meaning that it is larger than the state of Delaware. Icebergs usually float along the ocean but on rare occasions, if they are formed in strange shapes they can flip and reveal the bottom of the iceberg instead. This shows a far more transparent glass and is a beautiful spectacle to witness.
Icebergs are incredibly beautiful and important landmarks to our world today. While they will always be more famous for sinking a certain ship their importance to our world is far greater than that ship (or that movie) could ever be. If you ever get the opportunity to visit or walk on an iceberg we highly recommend you do so, especially as they are starting to disappear. Icebergs are an excellent indicator of how well we are taking care of our planet. So far the results are not very good.