Speculation goes that part of the problem for the RMS Titanic, which set out on its maiden voyage 102 years ago today, was bad luck; an exceptional number of icebergs.

Not really, according to a new analysis. There are more icebergs now.

Previously it had been suggested that the seas which sank the famous cruise ship had an exceptional number of icebergs, caused by lunar or solar effects, but using data on iceberg locations dating back to 1913 – recorded to help prevent a repeat of the Titanic – they have shown that 1912 was a significant ice year but not extreme.

University of Sheffield Professor Grant Bigg who led the research, said, “We have seen that 1912 was a year of raised iceberg hazard, but not exceptionally so in the long term. The year 1909 recorded a slightly higher number of icebergs and more recently the risk has been much greater – between 1991 and 2000 eight of the ten years recorded more than 700 icebergs and five exceeded the 1912 total.

“As use of the Arctic, in particular, increases in the future with the declining sea-ice the ice hazard will increase in water not previously used for shipping. As polar ice sheets are increasingly losing mass as well, the iceberg risk is likely to increase in the future, rather than decline.”

The iceberg which sank the Titanic was spotted just before midnight on April 14th,1912 about 500 meters away. Efforts to slow the ship weren't enough and the ship sank in two and a half hours. 1,517 people perished and only 700 were saved.

Published in Weather.