Published: Tue, July 10, 2018
Science | By

Iceberg breaks off glacier in Greenland


The researchers saw, LiveScience reports, "puffs of ice" tossed into the air as a new iceberg began to break off from the glacier.

It only took 30 minutes for an iceberg almost half the size of Manhattan to separate from a glacier in Greenland. The chunk of ice that broke away from Greenland's Helheim Glacier during this particular calving event was huge, measuring 6 kilometers (4 miles) in length.

A team of scientists has captured on video a four-mile iceberg breaking away from a glacier in eastern Greenland, an event that points to one of the forces behind global sea-level rise. Denise Holland, a research team field manager with NYU, caught the eye-opening occurrence on video, which condenses 30 minutes of activity down to about 90 seconds.

When large masses of ice part from glaciers, quantities of water are shunted into the ocean and contribute to sea-level rise.


"Knowing how and in what ways icebergs calve is important for simulations because they ultimately determine global sea-level rise", said Denise Holland. "By capturing how it unfolds, we can see, first-hand, its breath-taking significance".

The vast piece of ice that breaks away is described as a tabular iceberg because it is wide and flat. It's hard to get a sense of scale from the video, but the researchers pointed out in a statement that this iceberg would cover most of Lower and Midtown Manhattan.

The research team is now studying the forces behind sea-level rise-a development that has concerned scientists in recent decades because it points to the possibility of global disruptions due to climate change-under a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Earth's biggest glaciers are in frozen Antarctica, and their breakup would be catastrophic for sea level rise; the loss of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet would release enough water to raise global sea levels by almost 10 feet (3 meters). It may also offer a chance to study iceberg calving.

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