How is Icebergs Formed?

            Icebergs are those gigantic pieces of gloating ice that we mostly see in national geographic channel on our television or in books. In the southern hemisphere, the Antarctic ice sheet overflows its land support to form shelves of ice on the sea; huge pieces, as much as 200 kilometers across, break to form icebergs. In northern hemisphere, icebergs are generally not over 150 meters across. However, most icebergs are from some 20 glaciers on the west coast of Greenland. Do you know how these giant icebergs are formed? When glaciers, drifting from mountains and valleys reach the sea, sea waves and tides break them into big pieces. These big pieces of ice are called icebergs. However, there are some glaciers, which do not break even after floating for long distances in the sea, and appear like mountains of ice.

The major portion of an Iceberg is hidden under the sea

            The sizes of the different icebergs vary. The smallest iceberg measures 5 to 6 meters in length and breadth while the bigger ones can be hundreds of meter long. Some iceberg with lengths and breadths of half a kilometer have been seen floating in the oceans. As ice is lighter than water, the icebergs float on the surface. Their one-tenth part remains above water and the remaining under water. For example, if a 50 meter high iceberg is seen above water, then 450 meters of it will be under water. These icebergs contain huge quantities of snow. Some of them may contain 200,000,000 tons of ice. As an iceberg floats, some of the ice melts and pieces break off. Eventually, it completely disappears.

            Because of their huge weight and volume, the icebergs do not move in the sea on their own. They are pushed by the sea waves or tides. They are very dangerous for ships. A collision with the icebergs can cause a shipwreck. Though they can be detected with the help of modern instruments, mishaps do take place occasionally. On April 14, 1912, a ship named titanic was broken into pieces when it collided with an iceberg. This ship was sailing to New York; 1513 passengers, who were aboard this ship lost their lives.

            A similar accident took place on January 30, 1959 when the ship Hans Hedtoft collided with an iceberg in southern Greenland and was wrecked. Now the United States and other countries have formed an international ice patrol. The patrol uses ships, planes, and radars to locate icebergs.