Drift-dependent changes in iceberg size-frequency distributions
journal contributionposted on 09.01.2018, 14:09 by James D. Kirkham, Nick J. Rosser, John Wainwright, Emma C. Vann Jones, 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.