The year of the missing icebergs

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**** Info via Environment Canada

The year of the missing icebergs

During late spring and early summer, giant icebergs of every shape and size can be seen floating off the coastline of Labrador to the southeast coast of the island of Newfoundland. This scenic region, known as Iceberg Alley, gets its name from the hundreds of icebergs passing by every year.

Icebergs spotted in Twillingate, Newfoundland, at sunset prior to 2021.

The 2023 iceberg season is already shaping to be a notable year for icebergs. In fact, the season started off anything but quietly, as one phallic-shaped ‘berg made headlines all around the world as it made its way down the Canadian coast!

Many locals welcome this year’s promising iceberg numbers and tourists, as there have been very few icebergs off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador in recent years.

2021 iceberg season

In 2021, only a single iceberg was seen along the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The 2020/2021 winter in Newfoundland was slightly warmer than average, which meant that sea ice didn’t form as far south as it usually does. It was one of the years with the lowest sea ice cover. The spring was also warmer and featured strong north-easterly winds blowing offshore. This meant that icebergs had to travel further to drift past the coast and were exposed to strong winds, waves and warm water ultimately causing them to melt before even reaching the coast.

This wasn’t the first time that the iceberg count had been low on the coast of Newfoundland. In 2010, there was also a single reported iceberg, while only two were reported in 2011.

Annual iceberg count crossing south of 48°N on the northern Grand Bank. The shaded area corresponds to the 1991-2020 average ±0.5 Standard Deviation. Source: Data from the International Ice Patrol of the U.S. Coast Guard. Figure modified from Cyr F. et al. (2021), DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2021/017. iv + 52 p.

It’s not too late!

While Newfoundland’s iceberg season typically reaches its peak in May and June along the island’s coast, the season usually lasts from April through July, with occasional icebergs appearing earlier and later.

Now is the perfect time to view icebergs this season, and there are currently a few floating off the coast of Newfoundland!

For more: Iceberg Bulletin for the East Coast waters.


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