“Oops, should not have eaten breakfast before climbing. We both survived. Not to be repeated.”

Unbelievable these two ice-climbers swam away without injury after this iceberg they were climbing suddenly rolled.  Imagine almost being crushed by a piece of ice the size of a house only to find yourself swimming in frigid waters with ice axes on your hands and crampons on your feet. Gnarly.


Icebergs, massive chunks of ice that float in the ocean, can undergo a phenomenon known as spontaneous flipping, where they suddenly rotate or overturn without any apparent external force. This intriguing occurrence can be attributed to several interrelated physical and environmental factors.

Firstly, icebergs are not uniform in shape. They typically exhibit irregularities in their mass distribution due to the complex melting and freezing processes they experience. As the iceberg melts on its sun-exposed surface, it becomes top-heavy, causing a shift in its center of gravity. This imbalance can lead to the iceberg’s instability and eventual flipping.

Secondly, icebergs are subject to the influence of ocean currents and tides. These dynamic forces constantly act on the iceberg, exerting pressure and torque. When an iceberg’s center of buoyancy (the point where the upward buoyant force acts) becomes misaligned with its center of mass, it can result in a sudden rotational motion, leading to the iceberg’s spontaneous flipping.

Additionally, the mechanical properties of ice play a crucial role. Ice can deform and crack under stress, and as an iceberg undergoes gradual melting and freezing cycles, internal stresses build up within the ice mass. These stresses can cause fractures and faults within the iceberg, making it susceptible to flipping when a critical point is reached.

The spontaneous flipping of icebergs is a complex phenomenon driven by a combination of factors, including irregular melting patterns, changes in buoyancy, external forces from ocean currents and tides, and internal stresses within the ice. Understanding these mechanisms is essential for predicting iceberg behavior in the ocean, which is vital for shipping and environmental considerations in regions with iceberg activity, such as the polar oceans.

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