Tag Archives: icebergs

The physics of icebergs (re)explained

We learned about why ice floats when we were in our first science class, if not earlier. The density of ice means roughly 10% by volume juts above the surface of the water surrounding it.

The proportions of the illustration above (a modification of a creative commons image I found on a financial services site) are presumably correct. But if you’ve ever played with oblong pieces of ice, you know they don’t stay vertical in water for very long.

That means the illustration above is more science fiction than fact. I was reminded of this listening to the Revisionist Glaciology episode of the 99% Invisible podcast. It’s another engrossing episode of this outstanding podcast.

If you’d like to spend a few minutes playing with a fun interactive animation of how various chunks of ice would behave in water, I urge you to check out Iceberger.