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. jim

    don't forget to go green!!!

    July 18, 2012 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
  2. JohnJohn

    So now we are measuring ice in Manhattans? We used to use Rhode Islands.... I wonder how the Providence people are gonna take this.

    July 18, 2012 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
  3. Bob

    Did anyone else see the report that the US is leading the world in carbon emission reductions without being part of the Kyoto protocol? Europe seems to be struggling with that whole carbon credit system. Seems to be cheaper to buy credits than to clean up the system. I love government efficiency.

    July 18, 2012 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Luke

      ..LoL your so Funny !!!!! Wen U.S will stop make electricity with fuel and coal... you will drop the Co2 level all around us.

      July 18, 2012 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      So your whole conjecture is based upon your opinion? Just because you keep your head up your fourth point of contact does not give you a better view of supposed greenhouse gasses. When you have actual facts, then I will actually listen.

      July 18, 2012 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Actually, with the switch to natural gas for electricity generation, due to its price drop, we are producing fewer carbon emissions and all it took was economics, not regulations!

      July 18, 2012 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
  4. dieselbug

    @JohnQPubliqu – NEVER has the earth's temperature changed at this rate – it may be part of a warming/cooling cycle, but it is happening faster than before, indicating that non-natural effects are in play, and have been, since the Industrial Revolution over 100 years ago. Dinosaurs didn't drive cars, and cavemen didn't have power stations.

    July 18, 2012 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      I would like to see your data proving this fact. I am pretty sure it doesn't exist. The records(core samples) are not continuous or complete. They don't always paint the best pictures, and are subject to interpretation.

      July 18, 2012 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Ally

      dieselbug, it is not true that the rate of temperature change is greater than ever before. If you look at climatology pieced together from ice cores the climate was much more volitile in the period before the last two ice ages. Humans have lived in a relatively calm climactic period so far.

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

      "NEVER has the earth's temperature changed at this rate"
      Quite on the contrary, there is geological evidence of temperature rises and falls of up to 20 celcius in less than a hundred year span, several times..
      These tend to be associated with big events. Meteor impacts, super-volcanic events, mass methane releases, etc..
      A wild temperature swing is something that mother earth is quite used to, and it will weather it just fine.
      A few minor species extinctions might happen though. Like that pesky H. sapiens. All good in the long run.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. MrSmooth

    I am looking at this picture of a break away glacier, and then to my right, I am influenced to buy a New Cadillac XTS. How about that for warming up the planet

    July 18, 2012 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
  6. Akahn90

    Looking back at Earth's history and all the previous Paleoclimates, people would realize that Polar ice caps are more rare then they are common. This is natural history of the planet and nothing that it hasn't seen or done a ton of times since Earth's creation. People have to stop thinking they are living in the center of the Universe and that the entire planet revolves around them and everything they do changes everything. Our lives in this time is non-existent in terms of how the Earth acts and is. This is simply just another natural process that has been experienced time and time again. CO2 levels have been much higher in ancient times, so has globalized temperatures, way before humans existed and even when humans existed.

    People just need to do what all other lifeforms have done since the beginning of Earth's existence and adapt to the changes which are inevitable and natural. Species will become extinct and new species will emerge. It's how Earth has always been and the short time line of humanity won't change a single thing or cause the Earth to change either. Humans need to get out of the "I'm so powerful I can change an entire planets formation process". They are not gods...

    July 18, 2012 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
    • SCOTO

      Very true, but humans do have the power to rid the world of THEMSELVES, which is reaaly what concerns us.

      July 18, 2012 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
    • TSB8C

      Exactly. Man has tried to control the weather for eons. He has failed in the past and is not controlling it now. These are natural processes with evidence to back that up. We know there have been ice ages and warming throughout the world's history. We have seen warming trends in other planets in our solar system (where there are no SUV's or coal burning power plants). The fact that we have 150 years or so of measurements can not be used to establish a warming trend against the millions of years of geological history. Our 150 years or so of measurement data is a small blip on such a lengthy history and can not be used to establish anything.

      July 18, 2012 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
    • pm

      Can't argue with ignorance. We aren't manipulating the planets formation process, whatever that is, but our use of fossil fuels over the past 150 years has created massive amounts of greenhouse gasses which does change the atmosphere and the chemical composition of the oceans. These are facts that are proven and accepted by real scientists world wide. The debate is how much this is doing to the planet and whether it is contributing to Earth's natural warming/cooling cycles. Global warming is a fact, the scientists are trying to figure out if we are "help" speed up mother nature by our activities.

      July 18, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. DerDicht

    Important phrase – in 150 years. So, 150 years ago, it was at or was even further back from this point. That was before the Civil War, I believe. We should be working to do our best, not in fear of a natural process.

    July 18, 2012 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
  8. Magooser

    It's always compared to Manhattan when these glaciers break....Amerikuh!

    July 18, 2012 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
  9. Vad

    A lot of people think the recent heat is a direct result of man made carbon emission and de-forestation. If that were the case then a campaign of planting trees may help. What if it is something else? What if it is an increase of activity in the sun? What if it is an increase in Earth's volcanic activity? I do think we will see some sort of major eruption here pretty soon. To me, the whole man made "Global Warming" theory seems to populist. As if that's the excuse the World's leaders want the public to focus on. Come on, there have to be some smart people on this board. What other theory is there for this recent heat?

    July 18, 2012 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
  10. james ainoris

    Lush Dimbaugh said on am radio that Obama did it to gain votes.... I cannot bellieve how brainwashed the american public is and how goofy politics misleed so many.... lets look objective at basic facts: how many cars people farms airplanes trucks tractors powerplants airconditioners were there 100yrs ago compared to now?....Explain how all the pollution released by all of these engines across the earth would not cause some kinda problems..(First postulated in 1960s)?? Explain how the carbon dioxide level is 40% higher in our atsmosphere today then 444 yrs ago? (air bubbles taken from ice in polar caps dated from the past show this)? Explain the reason the atsmosphere of mars is so hot? (lab experiments have concluded that the higher the co2 the greater the retention of solar energy )... but so many nudniiks refer to political bantering they lose sight of the point being pondered...it is self evident and undeniable that big oil and coal and military industrial complex controls media... james ainoris

    July 18, 2012 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Ally

      James, if you go back farther than your "444 years" the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere were higher than they are today. At severel different periods.

      July 18, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  11. overdose

    I hope the oceans rise, this will create entirely new breaks to surf. Sad though for Vietnam, because Charlie don't surf!

    July 18, 2012 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Hot Carl

      No he don't. Charlie just eats cats.

      July 18, 2012 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
  12. Saywhat?

    instead of debating about what is going on, we can DO something NOW! We know what we did/are doing wrong, so lets fix it

    July 18, 2012 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
  13. T

    There is not doubt the polar caps are heating up and glaciers are breaking off. We live on a living planet. This is constantly heating up and cooling. It is 3/4 water and internally it is molten rock under pressure that is constantly being adjusted.

    This planet has been here for billions of years. For hundreds of Millions of years, there has been life on this planet. During that time over 99% of all species to inhabit the Earth have gone extinct. Our plants, animals, insects and sea life are constantly evolving and branching off into more survival species. And mother Earth is not paying much attention.

    The Earth is a survivor. It has dealt with Ice Ages, Meteor crashes, Volcanic Ash blocking out the sun, Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Plagues, Viruses, Bacteria etc etc. But the Earth doesn't care and can morph and change to anything we feeble inhabitants throw at it.

    How arrogant and self important we must be to think we can actual affect the Earth in any way. The Earth tolerates us, but wipes us away when it chooses to. Whatever is good for the over all planet, the earth does. Adjustments in internal Molten pressure, adjustments of the platonic plates, temperatures, precipitation, etc etc.

    The Earth may be warming, but to think we are responsible is a little delusional

    July 18, 2012 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

      You diatribe tries to say, "I'm intelligent", yet your conclusion is arrogant and delusional. Sounds like denial.

      July 18, 2012 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
    • pm

      ...and people used to be called delusional for thinking the Earth is a sphere...I agree, let's wait until it's too late to do anything. Put our heads in the sand. Horray for ignorance!

      July 18, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Triniguy

    "The researcher says its too early to blame global warming for the loss of Greenland ice, however."....so when will it be too LATE?!?

    July 18, 2012 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
  15. Wm McLellan

    More immediate in the current heat wave is the urban heating island. Chicago weather lately has pointed out the immense heating effect that building roofs, asphalt, and city geometry have in raising city temperatures 5 to 10 degrees above the general locale. In the south, one fairly young live oak can spread its shade completely over a city street. This effect was identified in the early 1800s, so there is no excuse for our lack of planting on our streets. All it takes is an acorn.

    July 18, 2012 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Doc Knowitall

      One day the libs will realize that suburbs and the country = sustainable living

      July 18, 2012 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Darth Cheney

      Doc, you have it exactly backwards. Suburbia & country living are environmentally inefficient for many reasons – long commutes, need to drive instead of walk to everything, lack of economies of scale, etc. Our cities could certainly be greener, but as long as people like you pretend reality fits your ideology, progress will be impossible.

      July 18, 2012 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
    • BigHwasdemo

      Yea, They can get all of those illegal aliens which have been invited to the city to plant a tree. Pathetic.

      July 18, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
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