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. cyg

    Hey Combine Drivers – is this photoshopped? How's that drought working out for your crops? Got 50 sunblock yet for that but while your head is in the sand?

    July 18, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ignorant new yorker

    am i annoying anyone yet?

    July 18, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Say What ?

      One can only hope, ignorant 🙂

      July 18, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. R

    Why dont we start preparing for this natural cycle of the earth warming/cooling by setting up desalination plants and piping water where we will need it to grow food and have drinking water. Instead evryone argues who is right or wrong spending money on useless surveys, regulating industries until they out source all of our jobs to different countries. While we all just sit back and watch the USA crumble and fall.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • skookumchuck

      Temperatures do not rise or fall due to "cycles". Something has to happen to make them change. You surroundings change from dark to light every 24 hours at around 6 AM. Is that because it is 6 AM, or because 24 hours are up, or because of the rotation of the earth?

      The earth is currently getting warmer because of the larger greenhouse effect caused by more CO2 in the atmosphere. If you can prove it is due to something else, you will get a Nobel Prize for physics. Good Luck.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • speakoutforscience

      If natural cycles were the driver, we would be in a cooling period. The sun is cooling, not warming. The warming is caused by greenhouse gas emissions.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • SilentThunderStorm

      Well, for starters, people keep trying to slip in crap like "this *natural* cycle of warming and cooling"...despite the physical evidence that this is far from 'natural'.

      The first step to dealing with this has to be working to treat the cause... rather than shipping water (which would add a tone of fuel costs and pollution) to the very people that are fighting solving this crap.

      Rather, ask yourself why nearly EVERY dollar spent on the campain *against* global warming has been spent by the oil companies?

      Real scientists see the evidence and understand what it means... we *all* know what it means if we are honest enough to admit it.

      Trading conservation for gluttony, and trading money for honesty, should *NOT* be the hallmarks of 'conservatism'.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • ignorant new yorker

      yes lets put that on our list of things we can't afford to do

      July 18, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • R

      It's hapened before man was here and its happening now better to be prepared than die of thirst and hunger

      July 18, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • R

      It's happened before man was here and its happening now better to be prepared than die of thirst and hunger

      July 18, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • R

      Earth first we will mine the other planets later.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • JoePub

      skookumchuck, it has already been proven the CO2 lags warming conditions. CO2 is a result, not a symptom.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Because desalination plants are extremely expensive! But lets just ignore all the scientific facts as to what is causing it and listen to the politicians on one side

      July 18, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • PurpleLeaves

      Holy smokes R. I can't believe I read something intelligent on a CNN board. The tech is already here, it could work.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • rosie

      Desalination only removes some of the salt from the water but not all the minerals. If you have ever tasted desalinated water you know that it has a definite 'flavor'. The minerals make it very unsuited for use in irrigation so you cannot use it effectively in agriculture.

      July 18, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • skookumchuck

      Desalinization is very expensive and so are pipelines. Should the government increase spending for these projects? If so should they borrow the money from China or increase taxes to pay for it?

      July 18, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justin

      Desalination is incredibly expensive and requires a lot of the very thing helping along global warming.

      July 18, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • BobbyBrick

      Amazing how little some people know. a) the earth absolutely goes through cycles of warmth and cold. b) The sun is not cooling...get out of 2007.

      July 18, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • JoePub


      NASA contradicts themselves. At one point, they said the sun was causing the global warming, now they say it is man. Even they don't know for sure. It is all a guessing game at this point.

      July 18, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ma & pa

    On a more fanciful and smiling note, did anyone turn the photo to see the grinning multi-legged critter formation? It's freeing to think outside the box. Fun too.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • anobody

      It's cute like the creature that eats lava rocks in a children's movie I've seen.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. chris

    Before man came along there was global warming (what do you think happened to get rid of the last ice age). Currently a lot of misinformed alarmists want to point fingers stating taking the oil out of the earth or pollution are the causes of this. If these people actually had an ounce of an IQ point they would see that the last one was not caused by pollution or oil and that this one is not caused by either again. It is just the state of life that the planet goes through.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • skookumchuck

      There were forest fires long before man arrived on this planet. By your warped logic, that means that it isimpossible for man to be the cause of a forest fire today.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • rob

      well well aren't we smarter than everyone else

      July 18, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      Just because global warming in the past was not caused by humans does not mean that humans cannot change climate now that they dominate the earth's surface. It is a scientifically proven fact that adding CO2 to the atmosphere increases the earth's temperature. We humans have increased the amount of C02 in the atmosphere by 35% in the last 130 years.

      For anyone who wants to know why 97% of climate scientists think that global warming is currently being caused by human activity:

      10 lines of evidence that humans are causing global warming / climate change by burning carbon
      (taken from )

      1. Humans are currently emitting around 30 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.

      2. Oxygen levels are falling as if carbon is being burned to create carbon dioxide.

      3. Fossil carbon is building up in the atmosphere. (We know this because the two types of carbon have different chemical properties.)

      4. Corals show that fossil carbon has recently risen sharply.

      5. Satellites measure less heat escaping to space at the precise wavelengths which CO2 absorbs.

      6. Surface measurements find this heat is returning to Earth to warm the surface.

      7. An increased greenhouse effect would make nights warm faster than days, and this is what has been observed.

      8. If the warming is due to solar activity, then the upper atmosphere (the stratosphere) should warm along with the rest of the atmosphere. But if the warming is due to the greenhouse effect, the stratosphere should cool because of the heat being trapped in the lower atmosphere (the troposphere). Satellite measurements show that the stratosphere is cooling.

      9. This combination of a warming troposphere and cooling stratosphere should cause the tropopause, which separates them, to rise. This has also been observed.

      10.It was predicted that the ionosphere would shrink, and it is indeed shrinking.

      Please visit to see what is wrong with the arguments of those who think climate change (which includes global warming) is not real.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • MMiller

      "An ounce of an IQ." Wow you sound so smart. You must know so much scientific stuff. Please tell us all how it all works.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • george busch

      You are right, temperatures do rise and fall over time and it has happened in the past – many times. But never so fast in such a short time – that is what the right is not telling you. The rapid rise in temps is due to man, it is not natural. But keep your head in the sand and listen to your corporate-bought leaders who tell you global warming is a farce so they can profit.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • SilentThunderStorm

      Sure, there *are* warming and cooling cycles, and they can be seen easily in ice core drillings.

      They follow fairly solid patterns or warming and cooling, just as the year follows pretty standard patterns of being warm in the summer and cool in the winter.

      But if you see 110 degree temperatures in December, then this is not a standard or natural warming or cooling cycle.

      We are seeing *far* higher rates of warming than *any* evidence based on 'natural' cycles can account for.

      Surprisingly, we *can* find a direct link to the rate of warming by studying the rise in CO2, modified by slight fluctuations in temperature based on solar cycles.

      Global warming *is* caused by CO2 levels, and it is a proven fact.

      Anything else is the oil companies spreading nonsense so the Republicans (including Obama) will nix any real reform, and they can keep taking all of our money.

      Wake up.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • ignorant new yorker

      since when is the intelligence quotient measured in ounces?

      July 18, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • ignorant new yorker

      being the ignorant new yorker i am having a hard time prossessing such brilliance

      July 18, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dylan

      Yes, the last 'ice age' ended due to 'Global Warming', but my question is what elements were inflated to cause this? That's right, CO2. During that time, such as today, Carbon Dioxide drove an end to the last ice age. Some 20,000 yrs ago Milankovitch's wobble helped enough to melt ice and this in turn increased CO2. The last 100yrs or so we began unnaturally causing an increase in CO2 that does bring an increase in temperatures. BTW, it's unnatural since it's in the form of pollution

      July 18, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aaron

      Really?? You call others "alarmists" but your post stands out as the most ignorant i've read yet. The exponential rate that we're burning fossil fuels is reintroducing gasses into the atmosphere that have been buried in the ground for hundreds of thousands of years. This kind of rapid atmospheric transition does NOT occur naturally and the animals and ecosystem will suffer tremendously as a result. The evidence of this destruction is overwhelming. Yet you somehow think that just because the earth warmed and cooled at some point in history that human induced toxicity is ok? You really need to educate yourself and rethink your position.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • anobody

      @ Robert Your comment is confusing. You say: " (humans) now that they dominate the earth's surface."

      That is a huge error in your logic. Water (which includes ice), insects, and bacteria dominate the earths surface not man. The idea that man could have a significant global impact on the climate (aside from nuclear holocaust) is not only naive it is presumptuous and false.

      July 18, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • doughnuts

      If it weren't for the altered atmosphere, we would going into another cooling phase, not a warming one. Starting with the Industrial Revolution, we have been slowly but surely altering the composition of the atmosphere. This has long-lasting ramifications.
      Look into the research about wood-burning by he pre-epidemic population of North America as a possible cause for the Medieval Warm period.

      July 18, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. AndyCandy

    Time to freek out if you are a lib.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • skookumchuck

      While you are freaking out about terrorists?

      July 18, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bean

    We should call in one of Al Gore's firms and pay his company for a study of this issue. At least that is what Al would recommend.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. tkindsm

    The Earth has gone through many heating and cooling cycles over the past couple 1000 years. Please take some 4th grade science classes. We do need to do something about all the pollution we create. We do need to work on creating more green energy solutions and we may certainly be in for some harsh weather ahead. However, the Liberals are simply not wanting to waste a good emergency to push their political agendas. We need to do these things because it is the right thing to do not because the Liberals want to “spread your wealth” around the world.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. 22X Richer

    But it WAS at that point 150 years ago. Sounds like normal ebb and flow to me.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Padding Al Gore's pockets

    There was recent finding by studying the rings on preserved trees that the temperature is actually .03 degrees Celsius cooler than it was in the Roman era. Therefore we are still in a cooling period. It isn't reported in the mainstream media for obvious reasons. Google it.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ashish

    I read lots of comment sin this forum. Most folks are out here to poke fun at this and reason, hasn't this happened before.. planet heating and cooling is a natural phenomena.. so on and so forth. Guys... I just have a simple plea.. let us collectively ( if not individually) be atleast ( if not at-most) a little bit wiser than the dinosaurs. Can we ?

    July 18, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ron b

    well at least the polar bears have something to ride on ......

    July 18, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mark Baird

    "Before man came along there was global warming (what do you think happened to get rid of the last ice age)"

    That is correct but this is about the pace and degree of change not if. The science is fairly simple.

    And yes I agree if people had an ounce of IQ you might understand the very simple science of carbon and it's life cycle. We may be wrong or we may be right. If we are wrong and we do something then we are more productive as a country because we reduced our cost of doing business globally. I see no downside. The reason for this debate is that the right hates the left so much and will counter everything coming from the left.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • anobody

      Indeed let's first raise gas prices by 100% so we can push more people into poverty and let the "other half" reap the benefits.
      We are fossil fuel consuming culture we have to start from there we need more oil to drive pricing down so that people can have good paying jobs that help build a solution. There should also be a section on everyone's tax for that allows them to pay there fair share based on their annual purchase of any fossil fuel for any purpose no exceptions!

      July 18, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mark Baird

    It is this simple and scientifically provable.

    Carbon dioxide (CO2) is transparent to visible electromagnetic waves (light) but opaque to longer wavelength infared radiation (heat). Most of the energy from the sun that reaches the earth is in visible spectrum (that is it is light). When this radiation falls on the earth, much of it is absorbed by the surface (if it didn't, the earth would look like a white ball). The energy some of the energy absorbed by the surface is reradiated, but this reradiation is in the infared spectrum. Since CO2 is opaque to these waves, it absorbes this energy and heats up. As the CO2 heats up, it also heats up other gases in the atmosphere (by conduction) so the net effect is a general warming.

    Carbon is cycled. It is not created nor is it destroyed.

    Plants use carbon dioxide and sunlight to make their own food and grow. The carbon becomes part of the plant. Plants that die and are buried may turn into fossil fuels made of carbon like coal and oil over millions of years. When humans burn fossil fuels, most of the carbon quickly enters the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • rosie

      Umm most of the energy that reaches the Earth from the sun is NOT in the form of light (visible EM).

      July 18, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. rosie

    So what? You all know that there is no way any of us can do anything to stop pollution. Believing that global warming is real or not solves nothing. How are you going to get the people that can make a difference do anything? I have yet to hear anyone make a case for how to stop the people in charge from doing what they are doing. Sure we have elections but as we all know "our" representative is doing a fantastic job, we just have to get rid of all the others. Folks we are all going to die one day. Global warming is not going to kill anyone that is reading this post. It may kill people 200 years from now, but we are all 'safe'. Oh course those in 200 years are going to be cursing us all to the hell we belong in for having done nothing.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
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