Can an iceberg follow a ship

15.4.1912

The passenger ship “Titanic” sinks on the night of April 14th to 15th, 1912. A few hours earlier, the Titanic rammed an iceberg in the North Atlantic. Around 1,500 people died in the shipwreck. Around 700 are saved, most of them women and children.

It is the first voyage of the “unsinkable” luxury liner Titanic. The massive ship leaves the port of Southampton in southern England on April 10th. The destination is New York, there are 2,200 people on board. At this point, none of them suspects that for many it will be their last trip. Just four days later, on April 14, the Titanic's last hour struck. At around 11:40 p.m. the lookout Frederick Fleet sounds the alarm: "Iceberg directly ahead!"

The Titanic tries to turn away quickly, but the iceberg is already too close. At full speed, the Titanic rams the colossus of ice. The front five of the sixteen watertight compartments are ripped open and overflowed. The prow of the Titanic dips further and further into the water. The first lifeboat is launched three quarters of an hour after midnight. But there are far too few boats - after all, the Titanic was considered unsinkable. At 2:20 a.m., the ship's hull can no longer withstand the forces of the water and breaks apart. The Titanic sinks, its wreck hits the seabed at a depth of almost 4,000 meters. 1,500 people are killed in the shipwreck in the North Atlantic, including Captain Edward John Smith.

The survivors in the lifeboats will be picked up about two hours after the sinking of the British liner RMS Carpathia, which calls into New York on April 17.

Iceberg alert

Two years after the sinking of the Titanic, the "International Ice Patrol" was founded in 1914. 16 countries that operate shipping in the North Atlantic have joined forces to form this reconnaissance force. Their mission: to prevent accidents with icebergs.

From Newfoundland, the Ice Patrol regularly flies over the North Atlantic to locate and observe icebergs. It is particularly busy here between January and July: 40,000 icebergs break off Greenland's glaciers each year and drift out to sea. There they are a danger to ships and drilling platforms. That is why the experts of the Ice Patrol try to predict the course of the ice giants. And with great success: since the ice patrol came into existence, no more accidents have occurred in this area.

Where do icebergs come from?

Although icebergs are floating in the sea, they are not made of frozen sea water, but of fresh water. Because they come from the huge glaciers of the polar regions. The polar glaciers protrude into the sea at the edges. Pieces of them break off regularly - the icebergs. It is also said that the glacier “calves”. And because ice is lighter than water, it drifts around in the sea without sinking.

The polar seas are cold between –4 and 0 degrees Celsius. That is why the icebergs only thaw very slowly. When the current drives them into warmer waters, they melt a little faster. Nevertheless, large icebergs grow to be decades old.

Some icebergs are huge and flat: the tabletop icebergs. They arise when the glaciers on the coast slide far out into the sea. Then large ice sheets float on the sea, but they are still connected to the glacier. This “ice shelf” can be between 200 and 1,000 meters thick. The largest areas of ice shelf are in Antarctica, on the coasts of Greenland and Alaska. When large pieces of ice break off, they swim out into the polar sea as tabular icebergs.

Icebergs are very dangerous for shipping because only their tip is visible above water. Most of the iceberg is underwater. Ships must keep a sufficiently large safe distance from the white giants so that they are not damaged by the sharp edges of the iceberg.

But there is also ice that freezes from sea water: First, ice floes from salt water form on the surface of the water. When these ice floes are pushed together, a coherent ice sheet is created - the pack ice.

Polar regions - Arctic and Antarctic

The largest ice surfaces on earth are around the North Pole and the South Pole. Because of their special location, the polar regions receive very little sunlight and solar heat, and the summers are particularly short there. That is why it is always extremely cold there - temperatures of down to minus 70 degrees Celsius prevail all year round. The cold caused huge ice masses to form in the polar regions.

The ice of the Arctic around the North Pole covers a large part of the Arctic Ocean in winter. It then extends over an area of ​​several million square kilometers. For the most part, it is a layer of ice that floats on the sea. In addition, the Arctic ice covers the northern areas of Europe, Asia and North America.

On the other hand is the South Pole on a continent that Antarctic. Antarctica is the coldest place on earth. Their landmass is almost completely buried under an armor of ice and snow that is up to 4 kilometers thick. Almost three quarters of the fresh water on earth is stored in this ice.

People, animals and plants have adapted to life in the "eternal ice". Polar bears or reindeer, for example, protect themselves against the cold with a layer of fat and thick fur. The Antarctic is inhabited by only a few people, the Arctic is slightly more populated. The most famous inhabitants of the Arctic are the Inuit in North America and Greenland, there are also the Lapps in northern Scandinavia and indigenous peoples in northern Siberia. They used to live there as nomads and get around with dog sleds. Today they use snowmobiles and many of them live in cities.

Hardly anything grows in the ice deserts around the poles because of the extreme cold. The ground between the polar regions and the cold-temperate zone is permanently frozen to a great depth. After the Latin word “permanere” for “to last”, this subsurface is also called permafrost. It only thaws a little a few months a year. Then particularly hardened plants such as mosses, lichens or dwarf shrubs can grow on it. This region around the polar regions is also called subpolar tundra.

The polar regions are the coldest areas on earth. It is precisely here that the earth is heating up: For several years now, researchers have been observing that the ice masses of the Arctic and Antarctic are melting. The consequences of this warming cannot yet be precisely estimated. But it is already clear that many habitats are threatened by the melting of the poles.

The world of the oceans

To this day, many secrets lie dormant in the depths of the oceans. Large parts of the world's oceans are still completely unexplored. We even know the moon better than the deep sea. But what we do know: Almost all of the water on earth - 97.5 percent to be precise - ripples in the five oceans.

The largest of all oceans is that Pacific. Its water surface measures a total of 180 million square kilometers! It makes up about half of all ocean areas. At the same time, the deepest point on earth is located in this ocean: it descends up to 11,034 meters into the Vitja depth in the Mariana Trench, a deep-sea trench in the western Pacific.

The Atlantic is the second largest ocean. It was formed about 150 million years ago when the supercontinent Pangea broke up. With its 106 million square kilometers, it covers a fifth of the earth's surface.

The Indian ocean is mostly in the southern hemisphere. With an area of ​​almost 75 million square kilometers, it is a good deal smaller than the Atlantic and Pacific. Its deepest point is called Diamantina Depth, which is 8,047 below sea level.

The Southern Ocean is also called the Southern or Antarctic Ocean. It includes all marine areas south of the 60th parallel in the southern hemisphere. It is considered by seafarers to be the stormiest of all seas. The large tabular icebergs floating in its water are also typical of the Southern Ocean. They broke off the ice shelf that formed around the Antarctic continent.

That's all around the North Pole Arctic Oceanalso known as the Arctic Ocean. It is the smallest of the five oceans. About two thirds of the Arctic Ocean is covered with ice in winter. However, like the ice in the Southern Ocean, its ice cover continues to melt as a result of global warming.

Even if we live a few hundred kilometers away from them, oceans are very important to us. Their currents and the evaporation of sea water have an enormous influence on our weather. A large part of the air we breathe is also created in the world's oceans: algae that live here convert carbon dioxide into oxygen when exposed to sunlight.