A mirage could be the cause of the sinking, according to Météo-France

One hundred and ten years later the sinking of the Titanic, new hypotheses appear about the development of the drama. An optical phenomenon could be the cause of the disaster. This can be read in a survey conducted by Météo-France and posted on its website on Wednesday.

Leaving Southampton in the United Kingdom for New York, the Titanic struck an iceberg on the night of April 14-15, 1912 off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. Nicknamed the “Unsinkable,” the ocean liner will sink within hours, killing 1,500 people. Human failure, the lack of lifeboats and the ship’s compartmentalization problems caused, in particular, the loss of the boat. But we can also blame the weather reportaccording to Météo-France.

calm weather

In this year 1912, spring is well advanced. This pushes “to the south the limit of the spring ice and increases the risk of collision”, specifies Météo-France. But as for weather conditions, “the weather is calm, without fog, without wind, without waves.” This also means that, in the absence of waves and foam around icebergs, the ice blocks are more difficult to detect on a moonless night.

The question still arises how the crew could have missed a 30m high iceberg when looking out to sea from the bridge, does the view extend to 15km? There would have been no fog that night. However, the helmsmen and some passengers report seeing fog. This could be the expression of the phenomenon of the “smoking sea”, resulting from the encounter of cold air with “a relatively warmer sea”.

A higher mirage

However, Météo-France makes another hypothesis, that of an upper mirage (also called cold mirage) that is frequent in this part of theOcean. “Light from an object on the surface bends and bounces off the layer of warm air above,” they tell us. In short, the observer has the illusion that the horizon is rising, “especially at night when the mirage band will be darker and less distinguishable from the ocean.” The iceberg would have been masked by the phenomenon. This hypothesis had already been raised by the Royal Meteorological Society in a study published in 2019.

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