Iceberg melt

Table of Contents


As icebergs travel southwards towards the coast of Newfoundland, they experience significant reductions in their numbers and size. Many icebergs melt more quickly when they move outside the ice pack. Icebergs that leave the pack will become grounded or be decayed gradually by wave action. The pack ice extends the life of an iceberg by:

  • Dampening waves at the edge of the pack, reducing erosion.
  • Keeping the water temperature within the pack near freezing.
  • Keeping the iceberg from becoming grounded.

Icebergs reaching the Grand Banks will have lost about 85% of their original mass.


Most of the melting of an iceberg takes place on its submerged surface because of the high density and thermal conductivity of sea water. However, iceberg melt is the combined result of many processes that vary over time and space along with the iceberg's physical properties.

The main causes of iceberg melt are:

  • Insolation,
  • Water convection,
  • Air convection and
  • Wave erosion
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