Iceberg Size Analogies

Quote of the Day

From whence shall we expect the approach of danger? Shall some trans-Atlantic military giant step the earth and crush us at a blow? Never. All the armies of Europe and Asia...could not by force take a drink from the Ohio River or make a track on the Blue Ridge in the trial of a thousand years. No, if destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men we will live forever or die by suicide.

— Abraham Lincoln on the security of the United States. His words ring true even today.


Figure 1: Good Illustration of the Iceberg's Size.

Figure 1: Good Illustration of the Iceberg's Size. (Source)

The nightly news reports have been filled with stories about the large iceberg that recently calved off of the Larsen C ice shelf. Reports of natural events always struggle with trying to convey the scale of events to the general public. In this case, the media has been reporting that the iceberg is (1) approximately the same area as the state of Delaware, (2) it contains a volume of water that is double that of Lake Erie, and (3) the mass of water it contains is about 1 trillion metric tons. Figure 1 shows a good graphic for area comparisons.

In this post, I will provide some support for these numbers and how they were obtained.


No special background is needed – just remember that the density of liquid water 1 gm/cm3, and the density of ice is 0.9167 gm/cm3.


Figure 2 shows my analysis. Any background you need can be obtained by clicking on the links referenced in Figure 2.

Lake Erie Larsen C Ice Shelf Larsen C Ice Shelf Larsen C Ice Shelf Delaware Larsen C Ice Shelf
Figure 2: Iceberg Metrics.

Figure 2: Iceberg Metrics.


This was just a quick fact check on numbers in the news. I think the media did a good job on this story.

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