Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
Science | By

Massive chunk breaks off Greenland’s Helheim Glacier


Scientists in eastern Greenland captured an incredible scene on video: the moment an iceberg measuring 4 miles (6 kilometers) long, separated from the Helheim Glacier and drifted away. The grant is part of the newly announced $25-million International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration, headed by the U.K.'s Natural Environment Research Council and the National Science Foundation, which will deploy scientists to gather the data needed to understand whether the glacier's collapse could begin in the next few decades or next few centuries.

The team measured a four-mile area in middle Manhattan, NYC, to illustrate the monumental size of the iceberg.

In 2017, experts predicted the collapse of the entire Western Antarctic Ice Sheet would result in a 10-foot-rise in sea level. 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.


Also, these effects include a side effect that only supports the continuous melting of more glaciers, the warming water effect that generates more and more icebergs that eventually melt away in the ocean, making sea levels rise nonstop. "By capturing how it unfolds, we can see, first-hand, its breath-taking significance".

Denise Holland, logistics coordinator for NYU's Environmental Fluid Dynamics Laboratory and NYU Abu Dhabi's Center for Global Sea Level Change, who filmed the calving event, said: "Knowing how and in what ways icebergs calve is important for simulations because they ultimately determine global sea-level rise". As it does so, thin and tall icebergs-also known as pinnacle bergs-calve off and flip over.

But even though the icebergs tossed into the sea here are contributing to sea level rise, scientists still don't know exactly how such break-ups work. "The better we understand what is happening, the more precisely we can predict and plan for climate change", explains an employee at NY University, Denise Holland. The research is focused on the Thwaites Glacier.

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