Titanic iceberg risk greater today, say experts

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WEATHER CONDITIONS which sank the Titanic were not as extreme as once thought, experts claim today.

A study from Sheffield University has dispelled a long-held belief the famous cruise ship, which set off on its ill-fated maiden voyage 102 years ago today, was a particularly bad year for sailing.

Using data on iceberg locations, which began in 1913 in a bid to prevent a repeat of the tragedy, researchers found no evidence to back up the theory that there were an exceptional number in the water the previous year.

They say the risk of encountering icebergs is much higher today than its ill-fated voyage which led to the deaths of 1,517 people.

Prof 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.

“The year 1909 recorded a slightly higher number of icebergs and more recently the risk has been much greater – between 1991 and 2000 eight of the 10 years recorded more than 700 icebergs and five exceeded the 1912 total.

“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 polar ice sheets are increasingly losing mass as well, the iceberg risk is likely to increase in the future, rather than decline.”

The iceberg which sank the Titanic was 500 metres away when it was first spotted just before midnight on April 14, 1912.

The ship went down within two and a half hours of hitting it.