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Icebergs

Icebergs

Icebergs are blocks of frozen freshwater floating in the sea.

Geography

Keywords

iceberg, ice sheet, ice, Titanic, sea current, water molecule, melting, glacier, freezing, calving, Antarctic, Arctic Circle, global warming, climate change, geography, nature

Related items

Scenes

Glacier

  • glacier - A large body of ice that moves slowly but constantly downhill.
  • ice blocks broken off

Icebergs are blocks of ice floating in the sea. They are made of freshwater since they are fragments of glaciers or ice sheets, formed on land, that move slowly into the sea over thousands of years. Glaciers and ice sheets move downhill due to gravity. As they flow, cracks appear in them. When they reach the coast, they extend into the sea instead of coming to a halt, forming an ice shelf.

The area and depth of the ice shelf extending into the sea can vary greatly. The grounding line (the line where the bottom surface of the ice shelf meets the land) is difficult to map precisely, since it depends mainly on the thickness of the ice layer. The ice shelf ends in the ice front. As a result of the tidal action, the power of the waves, and seawater flowing beneath the ice, chunks of ice break off from where cracks had appeared before. This phenomenon is called calving. These calved blocks of ice can fragment further to form a number of smaller icebergs of various shapes and sizes.

Soil section

  • icebergs - Blocks of freshwater ice floating in the sea.
  • glacier - A large body of ice that moves constantly and slowly downhill.
  • ice shelf
  • ice flow - The ice moves downhill towards the sea.
  • seawater flow - Seawater flowing under the ice melts the ice from beneath.
  • grounding line
  • seabed

Types

  • tabular iceberg - It has a flat top and is five times as wide as it is tall.
  • wedge iceberg - An iceberg with a steep side on one end and a slope on the other.
  • dry-dock iceberg - An iceberg with a U-shaped slot or channel in the middle. The bottom of this slot is usually below the surface.
  • pinnacle iceberg - An iceberg with one or more spires.
  • dome iceberg - An iceberg with a rounded top.
  • blocky iceberg - An iceberg with a flat top with steep sides.

Icebergs are of various shapes. They are classified as tabular, dome, wedge, pinnacle, blocky and dry-dock icebergs.

Dry-dock icebergs have a U-shaped slot or channel in the middle, due to erosion. The bottom of this slot is usually located below sea level, thus making it look like two individual icebergs. This is what makes this type of iceberg rather dangerous.

Physics

  • 1/10 - Because the density of freshwater ice is less than that of seawater, the iceberg floats in the sea and only about 10% of the volume of the iceberg is above the surface.
  • 9/10 - About 90% of the volume of the iceberg is under water.
  • Structure of ice

Icebergs vary not only by shape but by size as well. The smallest ones, called growlers and Bergy bits, measure a few metres in height and length, but there are gigantic icebergs too, measuring hundreds of metres in width and length. Icebergs around Antarctica are larger in diameter, about 300-500 m, while icebergs in the Northern Hemisphere are smaller, about 100-300 m in diameter.

Icebergs float in seawater, and only about one-tenth of an iceberg is above the surface, ninety per cent of its volume is under water.

Water molecules are connected by hydrogen bonds. These bonds form between the hydrogen atom of one molecule and a non-bonding pair, or lone pair, of electrons of an oxygen atom of the adjacent water molecule.
In ice, a crystalline form of water, all the water molecules participate in forming hydrogen bonds, leading to an ordered structure in which the water molecules are located relatively far from each other. In liquid water, not all water molecules form hydrogen bonds, and since its structure is less ordered, water molecules are located closer to each other. Therefore, water ice has a relatively low density, lower than that of liquid water. This explains why ice floats on the water's surface.

Occurrence

  • Canary current
  • Guinea current
  • Labrador current
  • Gulf (North Atlantic) stream
  • East Greenland current
  • North Equatorial current
  • South Equatorial current
  • Brazil current
  • Benguela current
  • California current
  • Oyashio current
  • Kuroshio current
  • Kuril current
  • Equatorial countercurrent
  • Humboldt (Peru) current
  • Somali current
  • Agulhas current
  • West Wind drift
  • West Australian current
  • East Australian current
  • Caribbean current
  • Chinese current
  • Norwegian current
  • Antarctic circumpolar current
  • Atlantic Ocean
  • Pacific Ocean
  • Indian Ocean
  • Arctic Sea

The majority of icebergs are found in the waters around the Antarctic. The Antarctic Circumpolar Current, also known as the West Wind Drift, carries icebergs from west to east. Icebergs, however, are also located in the Northern Hemisphere. These originate from islands located beyond the Arctic Circle and move south with the East Greenland Current or the Labrador Current until they melt in the warmer waters. The average lifespan of icebergs is about two to three years.

Consequences of global warming

  • areas flooded by the sea

The rate of the melting of glaciers and ice sheets has been accelerating recently. Its causes should be found in global warming, which is the result of the increasing proportion of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Global warming is adversely affecting people's living conditions and the global environmental balance. A 30-90 cm rise in the level of world oceans is forecast for the 21st century, which, in the long run, would pose a threat to coastal towns.

Titanic

Animation

  • glacier - A large body of ice that moves slowly but constantly downhill.
  • ice blocks broken off
  • icebergs - Blocks of freshwater ice floating in the sea.
  • glacier - A large body of ice that moves constantly and slowly downhill.
  • ice shelf
  • ice flow - The ice moves downhill towards the sea.
  • seawater flow - Seawater flowing under the ice melts the ice from beneath.
  • grounding line
  • seabed
  • tabular iceberg - It has a flat top and is five times as wide as it is tall.
  • wedge iceberg - An iceberg with a steep side on one end and a slope on the other.
  • dry-dock iceberg - An iceberg with a U-shaped slot or channel in the middle. The bottom of this slot is usually below the surface.
  • pinnacle iceberg - An iceberg with one or more spires.
  • dome iceberg - An iceberg with a rounded top.
  • blocky iceberg - An iceberg with a flat top with steep sides.
  • 1/10 - Because the density of freshwater ice is less than that of seawater, the iceberg floats in the sea and only about 10% of the volume of the iceberg is above the surface.
  • 9/10 - About 90% of the volume of the iceberg is under water.
  • Structure of ice
  • ice
  • water
  • ice/water
  • heat transfer
  • heat reduction
  • melting
  • freezing
  • Canary current
  • Guinea current
  • Labrador current
  • Gulf (North Atlantic) stream
  • East Greenland current
  • North Equatorial current
  • South Equatorial current
  • Brazil current
  • Benguela current
  • California current
  • Oyashio current
  • Kuroshio current
  • Kuril current
  • Equatorial countercurrent
  • Humboldt (Peru) current
  • Somali current
  • Agulhas current
  • West Wind drift
  • West Australian current
  • East Australian current
  • Caribbean current
  • Chinese current
  • Norwegian current
  • Antarctic circumpolar current
  • Atlantic Ocean
  • Pacific Ocean
  • Indian Ocean
  • Arctic Sea
  • areas flooded by the sea

Narration

Icebergs are blocks of ice floating in the sea. They are made of freshwater since they are fragments of glaciers or ice sheets, formed on land, that move slowly into the sea over thousands of years. Glaciers and ice sheets move downhill due to gravity. As they flow, cracks appear in them. When they reach the coast, they extend into the sea instead of coming to a halt, forming an ice shelf.

The area and depth of the ice shelf extending into the sea can vary greatly. The grounding line (the line where the bottom surface of the ice shelf meets the land) is difficult to map precisely, since it depends mainly on the thickness of the ice layer. The ice shelf ends in the ice front. As a result of the tidal action, the power of the waves, and seawater flowing beneath the ice, chunks of ice break off from where cracks had appeared before. This phenomenon is called calving. These calved blocks of ice can fragment further to form a number of smaller icebergs of various shapes and sizes.

Icebergs are of various shapes. They are classified as tabular, dome, wedge, pinnacle, blocky and dry-dock icebergs.

Dry-dock icebergs have a U-shaped slot or channel in the middle, due to erosion. The bottom of this slot is usually located below sea level, thus making it look like two individual icebergs. This is what makes this type of iceberg rather dangerous.

Icebergs vary not only by shape but by size as well. The smallest ones, called growlers and Bergy bits, measure a few metres in height and length, but there are gigantic icebergs too, measuring hundreds of metres in width and length. Icebergs around Antarctica are larger in diameter, about 300-500 m, while icebergs in the Northern Hemisphere are smaller, about 100-300 m in diameter.

Icebergs float in seawater, and only about one-tenth of an iceberg is above the surface, ninety per cent of its volume is under water.

Water molecules are connected by hydrogen bonds. These bonds form between the hydrogen atom of one molecule and a non-bonding pair, or lone pair, of electrons of an oxygen atom of the adjacent water molecule.
In ice, a crystalline form of water, all the water molecules participate in forming hydrogen bonds, leading to an ordered structure in which the water molecules are located relatively far from each other. In liquid water, not all water molecules form hydrogen bonds, and since its structure is less ordered, water molecules are located closer to each other. Therefore, water ice has a relatively low density, lower than that of liquid water. This explains why ice floats on the water's surface.

The majority of icebergs are found in the waters around the Antarctic. The Antarctic Circumpolar Current, also known as the West Wind Drift, carries icebergs from west to east. Icebergs, however, are also located in the Northern Hemisphere. These originate from islands located beyond the Arctic Circle and move south with the East Greenland Current or the Labrador Current until they melt in the warmer waters. The average lifespan of icebergs is about two to three years.

The rate of the melting of glaciers and ice sheets has been accelerating recently. Its causes should be found in global warming, which is the result of the increasing proportion of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Global warming is adversely affecting people's living conditions and the global environmental balance. A 30-90 cm rise in the level of world oceans is forecast for the 21st century, which, in the long run, would pose a threat to coastal towns.

Related items

Glacier (intermediate)

A glacier is a large body of ice that forms from snow, and is in constant, slow motion.

Melting and freezing

During freezing hydrogen bonds are formed between water molecules resulting in a crystal structure.

Greenhouse effect

Human activity increases the greenhouse effect and leads to global warming.

Ocean currents

The Great ocean conveyor is a planet-wide system of ocean currents, which has a great influence on the Earth´s climate.

Titanic (1912)

RMS Titanic was the largest passenger ship at the beginning of the 20th century.

Fjord

A fjord is a long, narrow inlet with steep sides, created in a valley carved by glacial activity.

Glaciation

The last Ice Age ended about 13 thousand years ago.

The water cycle (intermediate)

Water on Earth is in a continuous state of change. The water cycle includes processes such as evaporation, precipitation, melting and freezing.

Ötzi, the Iceman

The mummified body of a man who probably lived in the Chalcolithic period, was found in one of the glaciers of the Alps.

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