This article provides an overview of iceberg formation, location, drift and deterioration. Greenland's primary glaciers are a frequent source of icebergs, which are produced when the buoyant force of water acts to break off sizable pieces of ice from the seaward point of these glaciers. Between 10,000 and 15,000 icebergs are calved each year from the 20 major glaciers of west Greenland. On average, 482 icebergs survive and cross the 48th parallel. In arctic areas with near-freezing temperatures and when protected by sea ice, an iceberg can last indefinitely. However, once it reaches the warmer sea temperature of the North Atlantic Current, a large iceberg will disintegrate within 1-2 weeks. Iceberg deterioration proceeds in three ways: melting, erosion and calving. Despite numerous experiments, it has proven difficult to develop a means to accelerate the melting of icebergs. Detecting icebergs can also be problematic. Although large icebergs can usually be seen on a very clear day at a distance of 18 miles, in light fog or drizzling rain, an iceberg is visible only at 1-3 miles. An iceberg is normally detected by radar at a range between 4-15 miles, but waves can obscure a dangerous small iceberg.


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  • Accession Number: 01000304
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: May 19 2005 10:22AM