- Tourists watched in awe as an iceberg tipped over in Svalbard, Norway
- Iceberg tipping is a rare phenomenon that occurs when a glacier breaks apart
Stunning footage captured the moment when a giant iceberg collapsed and tipped over just meters from brave tourists.
The huge chunk, wedged off the coast of Spitsbergen in Norway, rolled over in an extremely rare roll-over as spectators watched in disbelief.
Icebergs tend to tip over when they detach from their “mother” glacier, and their irregular shape often causes them to wobble severely.
Scientists say the mere impact can release as much energy as a nuclear bomb and, in the worst cases, can even trigger tsunamis.
Rebecca Lucas Gan and Brian Gan from the Philippines filmed the phenomenon during a voyage on Silversea Cruises.
Tourists watched in awe as an iceberg tipped over in Lilliehookbreen on Spitsbergen, Norway
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ICEBERGS AND GLACIER?
A glacier is a huge chunk of moving ice that generally forms when snow accumulates at high altitudes.
Ultimately, this mass generally migrates downhill, where it often breaks up and forms icebergs.
According to the National Ocean Service, icebergs must be between 98 and 164 feet thick and cover an area of at least 1 mile (1.6 km). They are much smaller than glaciers, with a minimum size of 0.062 miles (0.1 km), according to the US Geological Survey.
“I heard a loud bang, and as I looked, I saw the iceberg begin to move, getting bigger and taller as it turned around,” Ms. Gan said.
“At first I thought I was hallucinating as I had never seen anything like it before. Icebergs don’t usually move.
“Then our guide explained how lucky we were to witness this, as it is extremely rare.”
The notable event occurred at Lilliehookbreen – a 13-mile-wide (22 km) glacial complex on the west coast of Norway’s Svalbard archipelago.
It is believed that around 60 percent of Spitsbergen’s landmass is currently covered with such glaciers – which corresponds to an ice volume of 7,000 km³.
While Lilliehookbreen is one of the largest in Svalbard, Austfonna is widely known as Europe’s largest ice cap – with a volume of 1,900 km³.
For illustration, assume that the Dead Sea – located between Palestine, Israel and Jordan – contains about 114 km³ of water.
The balance between summer temperatures and winter precipitation determines whether these glaciers will grow or shrink over time.
Icebergs, such as that observed on Svalbard, generally break off during the “calving phase” of a glacier that occurs on its advance.
Rebecca Lucas Gan and Brian Gan (pictured) said: “I heard a loud pop and as I looked I saw the iceberg start to move and get bigger/higher as it turned around.”
Iceberg tipping is a rare phenomenon that occurs when a glacier breaks apart
Although this is a natural process, the Center for Polar Observation and Modeling believes that calving and glacier thinning have accelerated dramatically since the mid-1990s.
This is happening amid global climate change, with temperatures on Svalbard rising up to seven times the global average.
Last summer was the hottest ever recorded. August temperatures in Ny-Ålesund, Spitsbergen reached 5.1 °C.
Animal species affected include polar bears and reindeer. In the summer of 2019, 200 carcasses were found when the animals were struggling to find food.
Ashild Onvik Pedersen of the Norwegian Polar Institute previously stated: “Climate change is making it rain a lot more.”
“The rain falls on the snow and forms a layer of ice on the tundra, making grazing conditions very poor for the animals.”
READ MORE: The impact of ‘global boiling’: Shocking before and after photos show just how much the Greenland ice sheet melted in ‘warmest month on Earth’
Shocking before and after photos show just how much the Greenland ice sheet melted in “the warmest month on record on Earth.”
The first US satellite image taken on June 14 shows the Greenland ice sheet just before hot summer temperatures hit.
Meanwhile, the second image, taken on July 24, shows the same region with much less snowpack and patches of “dirty” ice where debris has been exposed.
According to scientists, snow falls on the Greenland ice sheet every winter and acts as a protective layer for the underlying glacial ice in the summer.
But experts say hotter summer temperatures are reducing snow cover and making the ice more vulnerable to melting — contributing to sea-level rise.
The Greenland Ice Sheet (pictured) covers about 656,000 square miles – about 80 percent of Greenland’s surface