Based on a study done by the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, which tracked calving of Greenland icebergs as far back as 1890, the calving rate in recent years was matched only during a period during the 1930s.
Wadhams stated that warmer seas were accelerating the melting process, but at the same time are calving smaller bergs out of the larger ones.
The smaller icebergs are known as growlers (less than 3.3 feet high by less than 16 feet long) and bergy bits (3.3 to 16 feet high by 16 to 49 feet long).
"The growlers and bergy bits are difficult to detect by radar and satellite, yet are still capable of damaging or sinking a ship. Since there are more icebergs and they are melting faster, we can expect a bigger population of growlers and berg bits, so more danger to shipping," Wadhams explained.
There continues to be more evidence that ocean temperatures have been rising and for a longer period of time than once thought.
Ocean water warming was believed to have initiated about 50 years ago, but is now believed to have begun over 100 years ago according to a study done by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.
According to a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) funded 2006 study that spanned 20 years, the combined loss of mountain glaciers and ice caps averaged 402 gigatonnes per year.
The retreat of Arctic sea ice has opened new, shorter fuel-saving routes for shipping during the warmer months of the year. Sea ice is different than icebergs and forms as sea surface water freezes.
In addition, a number of vessels, including super freighters are ripping along routes through the Southern Ocean, avoiding the log jam of vessels in the Panama and Suez canals.
However, since there are more ships venturing into polar waters these days, the risk of collision from vessels striking the larger number of growlers or bergy bits out there also increases.
Not only are there dangers to ships, but also petroleum platforms in northern and southern latitudes.
So while research, technology and patrols over the past 100 years have made the sea less perilous in terms of striking the big icebergs, significant risks continue for coming in contact with the smaller, yet potentially destructive growlers and bergy bits.
In the months that followed after the Titanic sank near Newfoundland in 1912, the United States and 12 other nations formed the International Ice Patrol to warn ships of icebergs in the North Atlantic. This was joined by aircraft patrols in the 1930s, radar after World War II and improved satellite resolution and patrols during the latter half of the 20th century. The U.S. National Ice Center currently uses satellites to track large icebergs near Antarctica.
The RMS Titantic foundered, bow first, on April 15, 1912. Of the 2,224 passengers, 1,514 drowned or succumbed to hypothermia in freezing waters. The wreck lies in 12,415 feet of water.
Observations on board Titanic indicated a 10 degree (F) drop in sea surface temperatures (from the lower 40s to the lower 30s) in two hours during the early evening of the 14th. This supports the idea that the Titanic passed from relatively warm Gulf Stream waters to the colder influence of the Labrador Current.