5 June 2020

Low/medium iceberg season confirmed for 2020

Iceberg numbers currently reflect a low ice year, with 203 icebergs sighted past 48°N since January 2020.

A graph showing number of icebergs past 48 degrees N
Number of icebergs past 48°N from 1st February - 1st June 2016

Iceberg numbers currently reflect a low ice year, with 203 icebergs sighted past 48°N since January 2020. While late surges can occur in iceberg numbers in the region, in most years April and May are the peak months. In the last 10 years, the average cumulative number of icebergs past 48°N by the start of June is 576, which is significantly higher than the numbers seen this year.

The figure shows the daily iceberg numbers past 48°N since 1st February 2016. The red, dashed line shows 2020. While some ice years record two peaks, usually associated with sea ice trapping icebergs further north, then releasing them as the ice melts, this year has only one visible peak in mid-April. Numbers are also very low in May, which the graph shows is often a high iceberg month.

The International Ice Patrol defines a year with 230 or less icebergs as a ‘low’ year. A ‘medium’ year has between 231 and 1037. Therefore, while we expect to see a slight increase in iceberg numbers over the summer months, it is unlikely at this point to move the 2020 ice year out of the ‘low/medium’ range. This is in line with the model prediction.

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