The year the Titanic sank wasn't one with "an enormously large crop of icebergs" as has long been believed, according to new research. Researchers who analyzed Coast Guard data going back to 1900 found that 1912 had a relatively large but by no means exceptional number of icebergs drifting south across the 48th parallel, the BBC reports—and as Greenland warms up, recent years have seen more icebergs than 1912. Some 1,038 icebergs crossed the parallel in 1912, but there were at least four other years between 1901 and 1920 when 700 or more moved south—and 1909 actually saw a higher number of icebergs, 1,041.
"This really refutes the arguments that have been around about things like high tides or sunspots generating excessive numbers of icebergs in that year," the lead researcher tells LiveScience. Using computer models, the researchers also determined that the iceberg that sank the Titanic probably broke off from southern Greenland in the late summer of 1911, starting out 1,640 feet wide and 985 feet tall and shrinking to around 325 feet wide by the time it hit the "unsinkable" ship in April the next year. (More fresh insight: A maid's letter provides a look at the ship's final moments.)