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Blowin' in the Wind, Issue #093 The Titanic - Apr 1, 2012
April 02, 2012
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Weather Icebergs and the Titanic

April weather typically leads to iceberg formations, and you can find them in certain latitudes around the world. With the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic this month, the topic is likely to be on our minds. Scientists believe this is the perfect time to raise questions, regarding weather conditions leading to the formation of icebergs. More scientists than ever before believe that changing weather conditions and even global warming can cause an increase in the number of icebergs.

The royal mail ship - RMS Titanic was an incredible passenger liner, and she sank on 15 April 1912 during her maiden voyage. The tragic circumstances that led to this magnificent ship sinking are still debated today, and many believe the ice berg collision could have been avoided. Over 1500 people died within hours after the Titanic made contact with an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean.

It is believed that the captain of the Titanic failed to listen to the warnings given regarding the April weather and the numerous icebergs present in the water. The Titanic did not collide full on with this iceberg, however the glancing collision caused the plates in the hull to buckle, and the beautiful ship immediately started filling with water.

It was recorded that there were over 200 icebergs in the water that the captain of the ship was aware of and unfortunately did nothing. This number of icebergs is not uncommon in April and is seen more often in recent years, possibly due to climate change. Some like to attribute these changes to global warming.

How so?

As average temperatures begin to rise, the ice will melt, causing glaciers to slide down their terrestrial slopes faster than before and bergs to break away and float through the ocean at an increasing rate as well. We know iceberg formation has always been typical throughout April; however, in April 1912, there were a huge number of them in the water. Ice streams also delivered larger icebergs to the sea.

The ship rests at 41°46' N and 50°24' W, a considerable distance south of the permanent ice cap. As icebergs make their long journey, only a small percentage will ever reach the mid-latitudes; however, in 1912, the April weather was unique. The mild winter and strong glacier movement enabled large icebergs such as this one to reach the waters where nautical traffic is heavier. The iceberg believed to have caused the sinking of the Titanic was unusual in several ways.

How so?

Many icebergs are white, and can be seen easily; however, the ice berg that the Titanic met on that fateful night was clear in appearance. This unusual coloration is believed to have arisen from warmer April weather causing the ice surface to melt while floating, with liquid water filling in the fissures that normally make ice surfaces more opaque. Some reports have it that the visible part of the iceberg was unusually small from this angle as well; however, there was a large flank underwater in the ship's path, leading to the initial damage occurring in the lower hull.

The April weather had caused the iceberg to begin an unusual journey; however, there were several other factors that people believe contributed to the disaster. If the captain had listened to the warnings and diverted his course, the Titanic may never have sunk. Thankfully, people have learned more regarding April weather conditions, and the affect they have on marine conditions for the remainder of the year.

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