Science Questions

How can icebergs survive in the sea?

Sun, 7th Jan 2007

Part of the show Red Wine, Caffeine and Bugs in Your Gut

Question

Maria via telephone asked:

Everybody knows that salt melts ice. Why are there such big icebergs in the sea?

Answer

Salt makes ice melt at a lower temperature. So in sea water ice will melt at maybe -5 or -6 degrees centigrade. But if you get cold enough, the water will still freeze. And so you can still get icebergs. It's just got to be a bit colder than if it was in a lake. When there's salt in water, the water can get a bit lost in the salt. It gets in the way of the water forming a crystal. It's more difficult for the water to form the crystal, so it has to be a bit colder for it to actually freeze.

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