We present laboratory experiments designed to quantify the stability and energy budget of buoyancy-driven iceberg capsize. Box-shaped icebergs were constructed out of low-density plastic, hydrostatically placed in an acrylic water tank containing freshwater of uniform density, and allowed (or forced, if necessary) to capsize. The maximum kinetic energy (translational plus rotational) of the icebergs was ∼15% of the total energy released during capsize, and radiated surface wave energy was ∼1% of the total energy released. The remaining energy was directly transferred into the water via hydrodynamic coupling, viscous drag, and turbulence. The dependence of iceberg capsize instability on iceberg aspect ratio implied by the tank experiments was found to closely agree with analytical predictions based on a simple, hydrostatic treatment of iceberg capsize. This analytical treatment, along with the high Reynolds numbers for the experiments (and considerably higher values for capsizing icebergs in nature), indicates that turbulence is an important mechanism of energy dissipation during iceberg capsize and can contribute a potentially important source of mixing in the stratified ocean proximal to marine ice margins.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth-Surface Processes