Greenland Glacier Shrinks Overnight
A 2.7-square-mile chunk of Greenland’s Jakobshavn Isbrae glacier, one-eighth the size of New York’s Manhattan Island, broke off into the ocean between July 6 and 7.
The sudden mile-long retreat of the glacier, caught in the image above by DigitalGlobe’s WorldView 2 satellite, moved the point where the ice meets the ocean further back than it has ever been seen. This kind of calving event isn’t that unusual, but seeing it hours after it happened in this much detail is rare. And the event is somewhat unexpected this year.
“While there have been ice breakouts of this magnitude from Jakobshavn and other glaciers in the past, this event is unusual because it occurs on the heels of a warm winter that saw no sea ice form in the surrounding bay,” said cryospheric program scientist Thomas Wagner in a press release July 9.
“While the exact relationship between these events is being determined, it lends credence to the theory that warming of the oceans is responsible for the ice loss observed throughout Greenland and Antarctica,” Wagner said.
The Jakobshavn Isbrae glacier has retreated more than 27 miles since 1850, and six of those miles were lost since 2000. Scientists estimate that up to 10 percent of Greenland’s ice that is currently being lost is coming from this glacier, making it the largest single cause of rising sea level in the northern hemisphere.