While icebergs seem, gentle giants, they may unleash a deadly power when they turn. While this shows their stunning bottom, it also generates tsunamis and earthquakes and may even consume surrounding ships.
But what makes these colossal icebergs fall? To comprehend this process, we must first define icebergs.
An iceberg is a big block of ice that has broken off from a glacier or shelf ice floating in the open sea. Although they swim in the ocean, icebergs are freshwater and created by the snowfall. To be categorized as an iceberg, they must meet specific criteria.
Icebergs must be at least 16 feet above sea level, 98-164 feet thick, and 5,382 square feet in size. Anything smaller is a “bergy bit” or “growler.” Bergy pieces are generally medium to big ice chunks with a height of at least 3 feet above sea level, covering an area of 1076-3,229 square feet. Anything less is a growler. They are generally vehicle or bus-sized.
Because most of an iceberg’s bulk is submerged, it is incredibly stable. Icebergs won’t flip once they reach this stage. The probability of an iceberg flipping is most significant when it forms.
Imagine pushing a rubber duck or a plastic toy underwater and having it return to the exact location on the water’s surface. The same force that causes an iceberg flip will discover the most stable position for these things. An iceberg’s uneven form makes it exceedingly unstable, and gravity helps it shift most of its weight under the surface, allowing it to float.
Awe-inspiring, but also risky. While smaller icebergs may not be dangerous, huge icebergs may cause tsunamis or earthquakes.
The world’s most enormous iceberg (at the moment) is Iceberg A-76, which broke off from the Ronne Ice Shelf in Antarctica. It is 4320 km2 in size, somewhat more significant than Majorca in Spain. Just imagining how much force such a massive thing can create is frightening.
Scientists at the University of Chicago determined that icebergs that capsize may unleash as much energy as an atomic bomb. Flipping icebergs may cause tsunamis, which can be felt as earthquakes if they occur near enough to the mainland or another solid surface.
The scientists created a small iceberg flip. You can watch how rapidly gravity drags the model iceberg into the ocean. It agitates the water and waves. Imagine it with genuine icebergs.
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