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Drift-dependent changes in iceberg size-frequency distributions

Kirkham, James D.; Rosser, Nick J.; Wainwright, John; Vann Jones (née Norman), Emma C.; Dunning, Stuart A.; Lane, Victoria S.; Hawthorn, David E.; Strzelecki, Mateusz C.; Szczuciński, Witold

Drift-dependent changes in iceberg size-frequency distributions Thumbnail


James D. Kirkham

John Wainwright

Emma C. Vann Jones (née Norman)

Stuart A. Dunning

Victoria S. Lane

David E. Hawthorn

Mateusz C. Strzelecki

Witold Szczuciński


Although the size-frequency distributions of icebergs can provide insight into how they disintegrate, our understanding of this process is incomplete. Fundamentally, there is a discrepancy between iceberg power-law size-frequency distributions observed at glacial calving fronts and lognormal size-frequency distributions observed globally within open waters that remains unexplained. Here we use passive seismic monitoring to examine mechanisms of iceberg disintegration as a function of drift. Our results indicate that the shift in the size-frequency distribution of iceberg sizes observed is a product of fracture-driven iceberg disintegration and dimensional reductions through melting. We suggest that changes in the characteristic size-frequency scaling of icebergs can be explained by the emergence of a dominant set of driving processes of iceberg degradation towards the open ocean. Consequently, the size-frequency distribution required to model iceberg distributions accurately must vary according to distance from the calving front.


Kirkham, J. D., Rosser, N. J., Wainwright, J., Vann Jones (née Norman), E. C., Dunning, S. A., Lane, V. S., …Szczuciński, W. (2017). Drift-dependent changes in iceberg size-frequency distributions. Scientific Reports, 7, Article 15991.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 11, 2017
Online Publication Date Nov 22, 2017
Publication Date Nov 22, 2017
Deposit Date Oct 18, 2017
Publicly Available Date Oct 19, 2017
Journal Scientific Reports
Publisher Nature Research
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 7
Article Number 15991


Accepted Journal Article (1.3 Mb)

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