Icebergs, and the lack thereof, are a hot topic on an ever-warming planet whose climate crisis partially hangs on the survival of Earth’s coolest climes. These great icy lumps support wildlife such as walruses and polar bears who rely on ice shelves to mate and hunt, putting them very much on the Good List despite the negative PR disaster that was Titanic. The phrase, “Just the tip of the iceberg” highlights one of the most interesting things about them in that the majority of their mass is beneath the waterline, and there are multiple factors that influence how an iceberg sits when stable in the ocean.
Now, a new app by Joshua Tauberer, head of product development at a software company, can show you how the iceberg of your wildest imagination would float. Whether your oeuvre is dinosaurs or phalluses, it can be an iceberg, and Tauberer’s clever site called Iceberger will show you how it would bob in the wild.
The genius idea is not without limitations, as it can only imagine the two-dimensional configuration of your berg, whereas a three-dimensional distribution of mass might glean a different outcome. However, using approximations, the site can tackle even the wackiest of icebergs with decent accuracy – and above all else, it’s very addictive. The website was inspired by a detailed and brilliant thread from PhD student Megan Thompson-Munsen regarding stable orientations of icebergs.
Found at the polar regions of the planet, they can be seen bobbing in the Arctic, North Atlantic, and Southern Oceans. They are immensely heavy (which is why they don’t get on well with cruise ships) but amazingly float in saltwater because they are formed of freshwater. According to a post on Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears, they have different names depending on their size ranging from car-sized “growlers” to house-size “bergy bits”. The biggest ever found was a 168 meter (550 foot) tall iceberg in the North Atlantic, measured from sea level to its tip. Given that the bulk of a berg is below the water, it’s thought it must’ve been around half the height of the Empire State Building.
Icebergs also have different labels depending on their shape, including flat-topped Tabular icebergs and unevenly shaped non-tabular icebergs which can have anything from round, spiky or sloping tops, and blocks, carved out by erosion from wind and water. You needn’t let science hamper your creativity when it comes to sketching your own, however, so go wild.
Find out why icebergs are so important for curbing climate change here.