34 Extraordinary Iceberg Facts To Teach Your Kids

Ada Shaikhnag
Apr 20, 2023 By Ada Shaikhnag
Originally Published on Feb 09, 2022
Edited by Lara Simpson
Iceberg - plastic bag with a view under the water.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.1 Min

In this article, we will study the formation, average size, and places where icebergs can be easily found. 

An iceberg is a significantly large piece of ice that gets broken off an ice shelf or glaciers. To be officially considered an iceberg, the average chunks of ice must be at least 16 ft (4.8 m) above sea level, comprise a thickness of 98-164 ft (30-50 m), and cover an area of 5,382 sq ft (500 sq m). 

If a piece of ice is smaller, it is called a 'bergy bit' or a 'growler.' Bergy bits are between 3-16 ft (0.9-4.8 m) above sea level, and growlers are even smaller, similar to the size of a car. Despite their size, Bergy bits and growlers can still pack a punch, so do not underestimate them.

These smaller ice pieces are especially dangerous because they can often go unnoticed by ships and cause a lot of damage if they hit. This is why there's the International Ice Patrol, a group that monitors icebergs using radars, satellites, and planes.

Not only can icebergs be classified by size, but also shape. There are tabular icebergs with steep sides and flat top or non-tabular icebergs that can be any other shape, often with domes, wedges, or spires. Irrespective of their shapes and size, icebergs are a critical part of the polar environment.

Formation Of Icebergs

When a big piece of ice breaks from a glacier and reaches the open sea or ocean water, this phenomenon is known as an iceberg.

  • It is claimed that the formation of icebergs occurs due to two reasons.
  • The first reason is when glaciers move in a downslope area, the forward motion of a glacier makes the front end unstable, which breaks off and falls into the water.
  • The second reason is when the glacier warms, a lake is created in the middle of the glacier that carves a depression, and subsequently, the rest of the ends fall off due to gravity, resulting in an iceberg.
  • This can be a result of global warming.
  • These icebergs are considered freshwater resources.
  • An estimated 90% of icebergs are underwater because of the mass of water they carry.
  • Icebergs consist of two types: brash ice and tabular berg.
  • Brash ice is distinguished as a collection of icebergs and floating ice that measures almost 6.5 ft (2 m) across.
  • Tabular berg is an iceberg recognized by its flat-topped shape formed when the ice breaks directly from an ice shelf or ice sheet.
  • Since the total mass is not visible from the top, icebergs can be dangerous to ships.
  • Moreover, they comprise sharp edges that may cut through the ship's material, resulting in ships' sinking; this probably sounds similar if you know about the Titanic.
  • Also, when chunks of ice chip off, they are known to 'calve.'
  • How long does an iceberg last? An iceberg lasts as long as it is not exposed to sunny areas.

The Average Size Of Icebergs

Observers use categories of shapes, even though no two icebergs are exactly the same.

  • Floating ice shelves are the continuation of the flowing mass of ice that creates the continental ice sheet.
  • Wind direction, temperatures, ocean currents, and many other factors determine the size of icebergs.
  • Icebergs usually chip off from larger surfaces made of ice, like ice shelves or glaciers.
  • How big can icebergs get? The average height of a growler is over 3 ft (1 m), and the length is over 16 ft (5 m).
  • The usual height of a bergy bit is 3-13 ft (1-4 m), whereas the length is 15-46 ft (5-14 m).
  • The height of a small berg can be estimated at 14-50 ft (5-15 m) and the length 47-200 ft (15-60 m).
  • The height of a medium berg is generally 51-150 ft (16-45 m), and the length is 201-400 ft (61-122 m).
  • The typical height of a large berg is 151-240 ft (46-75 m), and the length is 401-670 ft (123-204 m).
  • Lastly, the height of a colossal large berg can be estimated to be more than 240 ft (75 m), and the length is over 670 ft (204 m).
Icebergs floating in a labrador sea.

Where are most icebergs found?

The most enormous icebergs that are also recognized as ice islands originate from Antarctica's vast ice shelves.

  • The Antarctic ice shelves tend to calve icebergs reaching great heights.
  • Usually, icebergs are found near Antarctica, in the North Atlantic Ocean near Greenland.
  • The only organization that names and tracks all Antarctic Icebergs is the NIC.
  • The NIC operates worldwide and works for tracking icebergs' data.
  • Iceland is also known to have some glaciers and ice caps.
  • Icebergs are born from pure snow and freshwater, and you can find them anywhere you go in Greenland.
  • The North Atlantic and the cold waters surrounding Antarctica are the homeland of most of the icebergs on Earth.
  • Icebergs tend to float with the ocean currents, which sometimes results in smashing up against the shore or getting caught up in shallow waters.
  • An estimated 90% of icebergs seen in Labrador and Newfoundland come from the glaciers of western Greenland.
  • The Labrador current plays a significant role in moving these icebergs.
  • Icebergs can also be found in the seas of the Arctic and sub-Arctic, the oceans surrounding Antarctica, in Arctic fjords, and the lakes fed by glaciers.

Fun Facts About Icebergs

Icebergs might be the coolest thing in the ocean. Beautiful and dangerous, icebergs float over the ocean surface until they melt. Portentous and daunting, they can capsize a colossal sea craft within a moment. Here are some amazing fun facts about icebergs.

  • Did you know these facts about icebergs? One of the parts of the North Atlantic ocean is termed Iceberg Alley due to the number of icebergs present there.
  • The tallest iceberg ever occurred was found in the North Atlantic, with an estimated height of 550 ft (168 m).
  • Only one-eighth of an iceberg is typically visible above the water surface of the actual size.
  • Icebergs are made of pure freshwater.
  • When the edge of a mighty glacier chips off and slips into the ocean in a process known as calving, the particle takes on a new persona, becoming an iceberg.
  • Their initial hosts are formed on land when snow builds up over thousands of years. 
  • Each layer of hardpack snow compresses into the next; this process continues until 230 ft (70 m) of the stuff results in an inevitable formation of glacial ice.
  • According to a report, when an iceberg reaches the Atlantic Ocean, its long, traveled life subsequently ends since it melts rapidly in the warm waters.
  • An iceberg is believed to have sunk the RMS Titanic in the South Atlantic Ocean.
  • In 1882, near Baffin Island, the largest iceberg on record was encountered in the Northern Hemisphere.
  • Ice sheets are also known as the third type of iceberg.
  • NIC is the only organization that produces analysis and forecasts of Antarctic, Arctic, Chesapeake Bay, and Great Lakes ice conditions.
  • Icebergs from Antarctica can be colossal.
  • In 1987 an iceberg (B-9) was calved from the Ross Ice Shelf with an estimated area of 2,080 sq mi (5,390 sq km).
  • Iceberg B-15 (also calved from the Ross Ice Shelf of Antarctica - the year 2000) was 0.5 mi (0.8 km) thick and covered an area of about 4,500 sq mi (11,655 sq km).
  • How old is a piece of iceberg ice? Icebergs are made up of glacial ice, up to 15,000 years old.

second image credit: Keith Levit / Shutterstock.com

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Written by Ada Shaikhnag

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Multimedia and Mass Communication

Ada Shaikhnag picture

Ada ShaikhnagBachelor of Arts specializing in Multimedia and Mass Communication

As a skilled communicator with exceptional interpersonal abilities, Ada holds a Bachelor's degree in Multimedia and Mass Communication from SIES (Nerul) College of Arts, Science & Commerce. Fluent in English and proficient in German, Ada enjoys engaging in meaningful conversations with people while striving to achieve her goals.

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