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Fun Facts about Icebergs for Kids

  • An iceberg is a large piece of freshwater ice that has broken off a glacier or an ice shelf and is floating freely in open water.
  • The word “iceberg” is a partial loan translation from Dutch ijsberg, literally meaning ice mountain, cognate to Danish Isbjerg, German Eisberg, Low Saxon Iesbarg and Swedish Isberg.
  • Because the density of pure ice is about 920 kg/m³, and that of sea water about 1025 kg/m³, typically only one-ninth of the volume of an iceberg is above water.
  • Icebergs generally range from 3.3 to 246 ft above sea level and weigh 100,000 to 200,000 metric tons.
  • These icebergs originate from the glaciers of western Greenland, and may have an interior temperature of -15 to -20 °C (5 to -4 °F).
  • Though usually confined by winds and currents to move close to the coast, the largest icebergs recorded have been calved, or broken off, from the Ross Ice Shelf of Antarctica.
  • Iceberg B-15, photographed by satellite in 2000, measured 183 by 23 mi, with a surface area of 11,000 4,200 sq mi..
  • The bubbles contain air trapped in snow layers very early in the history of the ice, that eventually got buried to a given depth and pressurized as it transformed into firn then to glacial ice.
  • Tabular icebergs have steep sides and a flat top, much like a plateau, with a length-to-height ratio of more than 5:1.
  • In the 20th century, several scientific bodies were established to study and monitor the icebergs.
  • The International Ice Patrol, formed in 1914 in response to the Titanic disaster, monitors iceberg dangers near the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and provides the “limits of all known ice” in that vicinity to the maritime community.
  • The sinking of the RMS Titanic, which caused the deaths of 1,514 of its 2,223 passengers, created the demand for a system to observe icebergs.
  • By the 1970s, icebreaking ships were equipped with automatic transmissions of satellite photographs of ice in Antarctica.