Shipboard radar, satellite photos, global positioning systems (GPS) and aircraft patrols have made the North Atlantic safer now than it was during the early 1900s.
However, despite improvements in detection methods and more accurate ship positions, as well as trending warmer seas melting the icebergs faster, ships continue to have close encounters with these frozen, floating objects.
According to the BBC, between 1980 and 2005 there have been 57 incidents with vessels involving icebergs.
Image: The greatest danger from icebergs today is from much smaller objects than portrayed here. It is believed that the RMS Titanic struck a small- to medium-sized iceberg. Graphic by Al Blasko, AccuWeather.com
On Nov. 23, 2007, the MS Explorer struck submerged ice, believed to be part of an iceberg, and sank in the Southern Ocean.
While the number of icebergs tends to vary greatly from year to year there are, on average, 15,000 icebergs born annually. Interestingly, in some years there can be up to 40,000 icebergs calved. In the Northern Hemisphere, between 1 and 2 percent of all the icebergs reach southward to 48 degrees North.
The most significant problem facing shipping and detection measures has to do with the size of the icebergs.
In the Northern Hemisphere, most of the icebergs are calved from West Greenland glaciers. Calving occurs when pieces of the ice break off and float into the sea, or when a large iceberg breaks up into a smaller one. From Greenland, the surviving icebergs eventually drift southward via the Labrador Current into the northwestern Atlantic Ocean.
In the northwestern Atlantic, as the cold Labrador current interacts with the warm Gulf Stream, eddies form. These swirls of water, combined with surface winds can transport the icebergs farther south (and east) on occasion.
In the Southern Hemisphere, the calving occurs around Antarctica from ice shelves and glaciers. Similarly wind and currents transport the icebergs away from the South Pole continent.
According to Dr. Peter Wadhams, "There are more icebergs now than there were in 1912."
Wadhams is Professor of Ocean Physics, Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.
"During the past 10 years, the downhill flow rate of the Greenland glaciers has doubled in speed and is contributing to a larger number of icebergs being calved," Wadhams said.