Massive iceberg breaks off glacier

2012-07-19 15:42

Washington - A massive iceberg twice the size of Manhattan has broken off of a glacier in Greenland, according to Nasa satellite imagery, in what could be the latest indication of global warming.

The images released on Wednesday show the massive chunk of ice breaking off of the Petermann Glacier on the north-western coast of Greenland. The glacier produced a similar ice island twice as large in 2010.

Nasa said the crack in the glacier had been visible since 2001, and that its polar-orbiting Aqua satellite had observed the break on 16 - 17 July.

Oceanographer Andreas Muenchow of the University of Delaware said that while the icebergs seem large, most of the glacial melting takes place 600m below the surface, where the glacier meets bedrock and the ocean water is much warmer than at the surface.

"The dominant mass loss is via ocean melting from below. This dominant process is not visible, it is not possible to capture it with eye-catching images," he wrote on his blog at

"Furthermore, and this appears counter-intuitive, the loss of area will have little direct effect on the ocean melting, because the 100 - 150 [metre] thick floating ice shelf is bathed in ocean water near the freezing point."

Muenchow said the Atlantic waters melting the glacier appear to be warming, but that records only go back to 2003.

"Some changes are dramatically visible, such as the discharge of large ice islands," he wrote. "Some changes, perhaps more important, are not."

  • Tony Lapson - 2012-07-19 16:30

    I'll say it for certain people, "global warming is a conspiracy and a myth! The us government broke off the piece of ice!" haha

      arthur.hugh - 2012-07-19 22:17

      Agree with William, big fat cash cow. I mean the last summit had hundreds of delegates flying in from the rest of the world for useless meetings - nice carbon footprint there you chumps, ever heard of Skype?

      Tony Lapson - 2012-07-20 08:54

      I don't deny the "natural cycle", but you would have to be ignorant to think that the conditions can't be sped up by external factors. Massive human population and heavy machinery emissions, coupled with diminishing forests, reduced fresh water supplies and increased livestock breeding are all contributing factors. Just as a closed mouldey container

      Lacrimose - 2012-07-20 20:16

      @Hugh_Influence - but you can't rub shoulders with Skype. Nor can you pass bribes, make threats or engage in back-slapping.

  • robin.stobbs.9 - 2012-07-20 06:57

    Global warming is a myth - climate changes are fact. Earth has always gone through episodes of changing climates (local and global) and will continue to do so until the very end! There is nothing new or sensational about a glacier calving off an iceberg - even extraordinarily large ones!

  • Tony Lapson - 2012-07-20 09:02

    I guess we(commenters) have found the perfect excuse to not have to take any action. Doesn't matter that "natural cycles" occur tens of thousands of years apart... "We humans aren't capable of making our own environment better or worse"... Let's just keep raping this land like the whore it is, ignore any signs of drastic change, fail to plan ahead and blame the past when everything turns to crap. Sounds like the human species that I know.

      Travis - 2012-07-20 15:01

      Granted natural cycles occur according to science, but if these stats are even close to correct, , then people who dismiss global warming as purely a natural cycle without taking into consideration stats, are arrogant, ignorant, naive, or all 3, and you probably drive a 4Ltr 4x4 around the city to look like a larney.

      Tony Lapson - 2012-07-20 18:16

      Yeah sorry. that was the point I was trying to make.

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