Glacier calves Manhattan-sized iceberg

July 17, 2012 at 5:00 PM
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NEWARK, Del., July 17 (UPI) -- An island of ice twice the size of Manhattan broke off from Greenland's largest glaciers Monday, a U.S. researcher reports.

University of Delaware ocean scientist Andread Muenchow blogged the "calving" from the Petermann Glacier, one of the two largest glaciers left in Greenland connecting the great Greenland ice sheet with the ocean via a floating ice shelf.

Muenchow, who credits the Canadian Ice Service for first noticing the fracture, said the discovery was confirmed by re-analyzing data from NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites.

At 46 square miles this latest ice island is about half the size of the event that occurred at the same glacier two years ago that saw an island four times the size of Manhattan break free.

"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 said in a university release.

"The Greenland ice sheet as a whole is shrinking, melting and reducing in size as the result of globally changing air and ocean temperatures and associated changes in circulation patterns in both the ocean and atmosphere," he said.

This newest ice island should follow the path of the 2010 ice island, Muenchow said, providing a slow-moving floating home for polar bears, seals and other marine life until it enters the deep channel between northern Greenland and Canada where it likely start to break up.

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