In the waters close to where the Titanic went down on April 15, 1912, a swarm of icebergs is once again raising fears and forces ships to take detours as a precaution, reminding everyone in the North Atlantic- and hopefully the US – that global warming is real. According to The Guardian, experts are attributing it to uncommonly strong counter-clockwise winds that are drawing the icebergs south, and also global warming, which is accelerating the process by which chunks of the Greenland ice sheet break off and float away.
Greenland has lived with extreme environmental changes for a decade or more. Sea ice is forming two months later and melting one month earlier. Rivers fed by retreating glaciers are at record levels. And temperature records were smashed twice this year, with stunned meteorologists rechecking their measurements after 24C was recorded in the capital, Nuuk, last June.
More than 400 icebergs have drifted into the North Atlantic shipping lanes over the last weeks in an unusually large swarm for this early in the season, forcing vessels to slow to a crawl or take detours that can add around 650km (400 miles) to the trip. That’s a day and a half of added travel time for many large cargo ships. On Monday, April 10th, there were about 450 icebergs near the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, up from 37 a week earlier, according to the US Coast Guard’s international ice patrol in New London, Connecticut. This is a drastic change in a really short period of time, and those kinds of numbers are usually not seen until late May or early June. The average for this time of year is about 80.
US Coast Guard Commander Gabrielle McGrath, who leads the ice patrol, is predicting a fourth consecutive “extreme ice season” with more than 600 icebergs in the shipping lanes. In 2014, there were 1,546 icebergs in the shipping lanes – the sixth most severe season on record since 1900, according to the patrol. There were 1,165 icebergs in 2015 and 687 in 2016. Most icebergs entering the North Atlantic have come from the Greenland ice sheet.