New research puts conventional theories about Titanic disaster on ice

Apr 10, 2014 by Hannah Postles
Icebergs in eastern Greenland. Credit: Dr Julie Jones.

Academics at the University of Sheffield have dispelled a long-held theory that the Titanic was unlucky for sailing in a year with an exceptional number of icebergs and say the risk of icebergs is actually higher now.

Previously it had been suggested that the seas which sank the famous cruise ship – which set off on its maiden voyage 102 years ago today (Thursday 10 April 2014) – had an exceptional number of icebergs caused by lunar or solar effects.

But academics at the University have shown the ship wasn't as unlucky as previously thought.

Using data on iceberg locations dating back to 1913 – recorded to help prevent a repeat of the Titanic – they have shown that 1912 was a significant ice year but not extreme.

Professor Grant Bigg who led the research, said: "We have seen that 1912 was a year of raised iceberg hazard, but not exceptionally so in the long term. 1909 recorded a slightly higher number of icebergs and more recently the risk has been much greater – between 1991 and 2000 eight of the ten years recorded more than 700 icebergs and five exceeded the 1912 total."

He added: "As use of the Arctic, in particular, increases in the future with the declining sea-ice the ice hazard will increase in water not previously used for shipping. As are increasingly losing mass as well, the iceberg risk is likely to increase in the future, rather than decline."

The which sank the Titanic was spotted just before midnight on 14 April 1912 500m away. Despite quick action to slow the ship it wasn't enough and the ship sank in just two and a half hours. The disaster saw 1,517 people perish and only 700 survive.

Explore further: Suomi NPP satellite spots birth of Tropical Cyclone Kate

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The role of physics in the sinking of the Titanic

Apr 02, 2012

A century on from the sinking of the Titanic, Physics World science writer Richard Corfield takes a look at the cascade of events that led to the demise of the 'unsinkable' ship, taking into account the ma ...

Sinking the Titanic myth

Apr 16, 2012

On the centenary anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, a King’s expert says people’s knowledge of the notorious liner is based on cultural anecdotes rather than historical and scientific fact.  ...

Recommended for you

Suomi NPP satellite spots birth of Tropical Cyclone Kate

Dec 24, 2014

The tropical low pressure area previously known as System 95S organized and strengthened into Tropical Cyclone Kate on Dec. 24 and the Cocos Keeling Islands are expected to feel its effects on Dec. 25 and ...

NASA looks at some severe holiday weather from space

Dec 24, 2014

Severe weather in the form of tornadoes is not something people expect on Christmas week but a storm system on Dec. 23 brought tornadoes to Mississippi, Georgia and Louisiana. As the storm moved, NASA's RapidScat ...

NASA satellite spots Christmas

Dec 24, 2014

If you're looking for Christmas NASA's Aqua satellite spotted it in the Southern Indian Ocean. It's a coral atoll (a ring-shaped reef, island, or chain of islands made up of coral) in the northern Line Islands ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.