Massive ice island breaks off Greenland glacier
The 59-square-mile ice island that broke off Greenland's Petermann Glacier can be seen at the northern end of the glacier.
July 18th, 2012
06:44 AM ET

Massive ice island breaks off Greenland glacier

The Petermann Glacier before the ice island broke off this week.

An island of ice twice the size of Manhattan broke off this week from a Greenland glacier, a University of Delaware researcher reports.

The 59-square-mile (150 square kilometers) iceberg is the second massive loss for the Petermann Glacier in two years, researcher Andreas Muenchow reports. In 2010, an ice island four times the size of Manhattan was lost from the glacier.

“While the size is not as spectacular as it was in 2010, the fact that it follows so closely to the 2010 event brings the glacier’s terminus to a location where it has not been for at least 150 years,” Muenchow says in a university press release.

The researcher says its too early to blame global warming for the loss of Greenland ice, however.

“Northwest Greenland and northeast Canada are warming more than five times faster than the rest of the world,” Muenchow says in the press release, “but the observed warming is not proof that the diminishing ice shelf is caused by this, because air temperatures have little effect on this glacier; ocean temperatures do, and our ocean temperature time series are only five to eight years long — too short to establish a robust warming signal.”

Muenchow says the massive chunk of ice is expected to eventually enter the Nares Strait between Greenland and Canada, where it will break up into smaller icebergs.

That could take a while. Pieces of the 2010 calving can still be found along the Canadian coast as far south as Labrador, Muenchow said.

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Filed under: Science
soundoff (595 Responses)
  1. Caveman

    Think about it folks... how many metric tons of CO2 do you think the united states and other countries bellow into the air everyday in an atomosphere only 20 miles thick? YES, only twenty miles high... you could get in your car and in 15 minutes be out in space if you go upwards, and you mean to tell me that all of the gas that we emit from cars everyday isn't affecting things...C'OOMOOOOONNN MAN.. you guys aren't as smart as you look. It IS making a difference, and we need to move to electric vehicles as soon as possible. Any idiot with half a monkey's brain could understand we have a very thin atmosphere compared to the size of the Earth.

    July 18, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • mac

      The majority of energy produced comes from burning coal, so how exactly will running electric cars change anything? I'm not saying that we don't need to lower our emissions, but electric cars wont make any change yet. Electric cars still need to be charged, which means more electricity used, which means more coal burned, and no change in emissions. So were just trading one evil for another. Currently battery technology isn't far enough for us to support running electric cars either. The best thing right now is for people to make the switch to hybrid, as they don't need to be charged, and will reduce emissions.

      We need to be working on making strides in battery, and solar technology, or another alternative for running vehicles. Solar would be a great way to phase out coal, which would drastically lower emissions. Imagine a house with solar cells infused into the siding, or shingles. Or an electric car that charges itself during the day. Unfortunately solar is too inefficient right now, and wont phase anything out, but those are the advancements we need to be making.

      Also just to play devils advocate. Ice cells have shown that global warming, and cooling are both natural trends, and that the earths average temp has been higher before, and humans were still very primitive at that time. Also the distance the earth orbits from the sun changes, causing warming, and cooling. I'm not saying our emissions have nothing to do with it, but I'm more inclined to believe that it has more to do with natural events than emissions. We still need to drastically lower our emissions though, as there are many other bad things associated with them.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Klipsi

    Twice the size of Manhattan ... sounds so much more dramatic than 'Tens of Thousands of times smaller than Greenland'

    July 18, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Belhade

    If only we could airlift this giant chunk of ice and drop it in the middle of our drought area...and then airlift another giant chunk of ice and airlift it to our other drought area!

    July 18, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dott

      Just what I recommended. Already some one has figured out how to save this precious commodity.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • mklsgl

      Of course I could be wrong but I do believe the ice from the glacier is made of salt water.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Tim

    Oh yes it is, there have been several reports over the last couple of years involving thermal inversion layers that are resulting in unusual air currents moving hotter air iatmospher into these northern settings. This is resulting in a faster than anticipated melt off of the canadian and Greenlandic ice fields. Put simply, this is just the beginning boys and girls. It gets hotter from here

    July 18, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • oldpatriot

      Yet the article very specifically says this is not caused by air temperature, I see your ready to make your alarmist prediction that glaciers will continue to melt and break apart yet the scientists in studying say that they cannot prove that.

      The facts from the experts say it isnt caused by you hypothesis yet you still believe – is AGW a religion ?

      July 18, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      I will chose the liberal viewpoint and let my grandchildren worry about this problem. I have much more important things to do like get ready for my golf game this afternoon.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Myto Senseworth

    This climate change thing is a pain in my ice.

    July 18, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. mort

    Gay guy uses caps because he's a screamer. Caps use in e-mail is known as screaming. I'm shure you would be a screamer too if you had a gerbel up........yea!

    July 18, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Myto Senseworth

      What did yhe brown gerble say to the white gerble?........... you must be the new guy.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • ignorant new yorker


      July 18, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Lord Franklin

    I saw an empty Lexus locked with the engine running and a/c on the parking lot. Those people are smart. Who wants to get into a hot car after shopping?

    July 18, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ManTex

    Just roll with it and buy some beach front property on the western border of Nevada

    July 18, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • ignorant new yorker

      I'm with man tex

      July 18, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |

    The people of Greenland should be happy about the coming warm spell, ages, for they can look forward to having more green land.

    July 18, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ignorant new yorker

    save the penguins!

    July 18, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Dott

    Wish that we could drag it down to Florida or to other states that are hurting for water. Why can't someone come up with a way to do that. They can go to the moon but can't figure out how to save this clean water.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • oldpatriot

      towing a 59 square mile of ice is nearly impossible, it would probably take every ship on earth all pulling together to move it at all, even then it move so slow that it would melt before reaching new york let alone florida!

      July 18, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dade Man

    Who owns jurisdiction? We can make a floating winter vacation destination before it melts..Wacha think Mr. Branson?

    July 18, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Dade Man

    new guy.....LOL

    July 18, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Chgo T

    People say that global warming is nonsense, but look at the whole picture – we are here for the tinest speck of time – we're still at the end of an ice age – NO ONE knows what will happen – we have not been around that long. The storms & heat & droughts are likely to just get worse as time goes on.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dade Man

    I once had a question on a chemistry test that asked 'what is hard water" stumped me so I answered "Ice"

    July 18, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
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