[QODLink]
Europe
Massive iceberg breaks off Greenland glacier
An iceberg twice the size of Manhattan breaks free from Greenland's Petermann Glacier, scientists say.
Last Modified: 25 Jul 2012 06:46
This is the second time in less than two years that the Petermann Glacier has calved a monstrous ice island [Reuters]

A massive iceberg twice the size of Manhattan has broken away from Greenland's Petermann Glacier, scientists have said.

"The floating extension (of the glacier) is breaking apart," Eric Rignot of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in a statement on Thursday.

"It is not a collapse, but it is certainly a significant event."

This is the second time in less than two years that the Petermann Glacier has calved a monstrous ice island. In 2010, it unleashed another massive ice chunk into the sea.

The latest break was observed by NASA's Aqua satellite, which passes over the North Pole several times a day, and was noted by Trudy Wohlleben of the Canadian Ice Service.

"At this time of year, we're always watching the Petermann Glacier," Wohlleben said, because it can spawn big icebergs that invade North Atlantic shipping lanes or imperil oil platforms in the Grand Banks off Newfoundland.

Climate change

A large piece of the 2010 iceberg did just that, but caused no damage, she said by telephone.

One difference between the 2010 event and this one is that the present ice island broke off further upstream, where the ice was right up against the fjord's rocky sidewalls, effectively damming the glacier's seaward movement.

NASA images showed the iceberg calving - breaking off from a floating river of ice called an ice tongue, and moving downstream along a fjord on Greenland's northwest coast.

A rift in the ice had been identified in 2001, but on Monday a crack was evident.

On Tuesday, the satellite spied a bigger gap between the glacier and the iceberg, and the ice chunks further downstream were breaking up, NASA said online.

Andreas Muenchow, an Arctic oceanographer at the University of Delaware, said climate change was a factor in the current state of the Petermann Glacier.

He said this glacier is as far back toward the land as it has been since the start of the Industrial Revolution more than 150 years ago.

353

Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Your chance to be an investigative journalist in Al Jazeera’s new interactive game.
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Featured
Private citizens take initiative to help 'irregular' migrants, accusing governments of excessive focus on security.
Indonesia's cassava plantations are being killed by mealybugs, and thousands of wasps have been released to stop them.
Violence in Ain al-Arab has prompted many Kurdish Syrians to flee to Turkey, but others are returning to battle ISIL.
Unelected representatives quietly iron out logistics of massive TPP and TTIP deals among US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.
Led by students concerned for their future with 'nothing to lose', it remains to be seen who will blink first.