Today, there are several million icebergs floating on the oceans of all sizes and shapes. They are created in the Arctic and Antarctic and, once detached, follow the currents until they melt and disappear. The melting of an iceberg can last up to more than a decade.

What is an iceberg?

The word "iceberg" comes from the Norwegian ijsberg which means "mountain of ice" with the terms ijs "ice" and berg "mountain".

Icebergs are fragments of glaciers that float in the oceans.


How do icebergs form?

It is a natural process that leads to their formation and occurs when a glacier reaches the sea. There would be no icebergs without glaciers, which are the source of their formation. They are formed by the accumulation of snow on a bedrock, island, or land. Gravity plays an important role in the formation of icebergs, since the glacier is subjected to an enormous mass (several billion tons), which will slide towards the sea. It advances each year by several centimetres to several kilometres. Thus, the steeper the slope, the faster the glacier advances.

Then the ice breaks off because the front of the glacier is exposed to the wind, the tides, and many currents which will release chunks of ice. This phenomenon is called ice calving, which is the production of icebergs by a glacier when ice masses break away from the glacier at its ice front. These loose fragments are then carried away by winds and ocean currents.


Where do icebergs form?

Icebergs form mainly in the Arctic and Antarctic, but the latter produces 10 times more icebergs. Antarctica tends to produce the largest icebergs in the world. In the Arctic, icebergs mainly come from the ice caps. They are mostly small. In contrast, Antarctica is the source of the world's largest icebergs. Depending on the size of the fjord, the iceberg will either fall and break into thousands of glaciers, or when the fjords are deeper, massive icebergs can form.

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