JUST THE FACTS
• Glaciers "flow" or "creep" outward under
their own weight like a viscous fluid. When the edge of a glacier advances
into the ocean the pieces that break off are what we call icebergs.
• Icebergs are comprised of pure fresh water.
• The term "iceberg" most likely originates from the
Dutch term "ijsberg", which means ice mountain.
• The glaciers of western Greenland, where 90% of Newfoundland’s
icebergs originate, are amongst the fastest moving in the world, up
to seven kilometres per year.
• As icebergs drift south in the Labrador Current they enter
Iceberg Alley, which extends south along the coast of Newfoundland.
It takes approximately two to three years for these massive icebergs
to reach Newfoundland covering a distance of 1,600 nautical miles.
• The icebergs that reach the east coast of Newfoundland probably
calved from a glacier more than a year before.
• When an iceberg does happen to reach the Atlantic Ocean its
long and travelled life quickly comes to an end since it melts rapidly
in the warm waters.
• Between 10,000 to 15,000 icebergs are calved each year.
• The glacial ice that icebergs are made of may be more that
15,000 years old.
• Seven-eighths of the iceberg’s mass is below water.
• The average iceberg weight for the Grand Banks area is 100,000
to 200,000 tonnes and is about the size of a cubic 15-storey building.
• The interior temperature of icebergs off the coast of Newfoundland
and Labrador is in the range of -15° to -20° C.
• The largest Northern Hemisphere iceberg on record was encountered
near Baffin Island in 1882. It was 13 kilometres long, six kilometres
wide and had a freeboard (height above water) of about 20 metres. The
mass of that iceberg was in excess of nine billion tonnes - enough
water for everyone in the world to drink one litre a day for over four
• The largest icebergs (also referred to as ice islands) originate
from the vast ice shelves surrounding Antarctica.
• Ninety-three percent of the world’s mass of icebergs
is found surrounding the Antarctic.
• In 1987, an iceberg with an area of 6,350 square kilometres
(roughly the size of the state of Rhode Island) broke from the Ross
ice-shelf in Antarctica. That ’berg had a mass of around 1.4
trillion tonnes and could have supplied everyone in the world with
240 tonnes of pure drinking water.
• The tallest known iceberg in the North Atlantic was 168 metres
• When iceberg ice melts it makes a fizzing sound where the term "bergy
seltzer" comes from. The sound comes from the popping of compressed
air bubbles that are in the ice. The bubbles form when air is trapped
in the snow layers that are compressed to form glacial ice. The released
air is as old as the ice — thousands of years!
• Birds taking flight from an iceberg are a good sign that the ’berg
is about to roll. A possible explanation is that birds’ keen
sense of balance enables them to detect gradual movements in icebergs
long before people can see them.
• A secret Second World War program, called Project Habbakuk,
was proposed by the British to manufacture icebergs for use as unsinkable
• The Hibernia platform is designed to withstand the impact of
an iceberg in excess of five million tonnes. The massive reinforced
concrete structure has vertical wedge shaped elements on the surface
intended to reduce iceberg impact loads.
• Greenland and other North Atlantic icebergs are usually peaked
and irregular in shape; Antarctic icebergs are usually tabular, with
flat tops and steep sides.
• Floating ice shelves constitute 11 percent of the area of the
continent of Antactica.
• Antarctic ice shelves may calve icebergs that are over 80 kilometres
• Antarctica is actually a desert, receiving about the same precipitation
(less than five centimetres a year) as the Sahara Desert.
• If Antarctica were to melt, the sea level would rise over 60
• The world’s record low temperature of -89.2° C was
recorded in Antarctica.
• The coasts of Antarctica are some of the windiest places
in the world, with gusts reaching nearly 321 kilometres per hour.
• The temperature in Antarctica once dropped 18° C in
• An ice sheet covers all but 2.4 percent of Antarctica’s
14 million square kilometers. At its thickest point the ice sheet is
nearly five kilometres deep. It averages two kilometres thick, making
Antarctica the highest continent. This ice comprises 90 percent of
all the world’s ice, and it is 70 percent of all the world’s
• Antarctica is the coldest continent.
• The Antarctic ice sheet has been in existence for at
least 40 million years.
• Presently, 10 percent of the world’s land area is covered
• Glaciers store about 75 percent of the world’s