Huge Piece of Ice Cap Splits Off, Worrying Scientists

42-square-mile chunk breaks away in northeastern Arctic
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 14, 2020 5:59 PM CDT
Ice Cap Split Shows 'Rapidly Heating Arctic'
An image from the European Space Agency shows the glacier section that broke off the fjord called Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden, bottom.   (European Space Agency via AP)

An enormous chunk of Greenland's ice cap has broken off in the far northeastern Arctic, a development that scientists say is evidence of rapid climate change. The glacier section that broke off is 42.3 square miles, the AP reports. It came off of the fjord called Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden, which is roughly 50 miles long and 12 miles wide, the National Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland said Monday. The glacier is at the end of the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream, where it flows off the land and into the ocean. Annual end-of-melt-season changes for the Arctic's largest ice shelf in northeast Greenland are measured by optical satellite imagery, the survey known as GEUS said. It shows that the area's ice losses for the past two years each exceeded 19 square miles. Since 1999, the ice shelf has lost 62 square miles, an area nearly twice that of Manhattan in New York.

"We should be very concerned about what appears to be progressive disintegration at the Arctic’s largest remaining ice shelf," said a GEUS professor. A Greenpeace spokeswoman, who is aboard the organization's ship Arctic Sunrise at the edge of the sea ice, said: "Another massive chunk of vital sea ice has fallen into the ocean. This is yet another alarm bell being rung by the climate crisis in a rapidly heating Arctic." Last week, an ice scientist at the Danish Meteorological Institute, said, "again this year, the ice sheet has lost more ice than has been added in the form of snow." She added that if this had happened 30 years ago, "We would have called it extreme. So in recent years, we have become accustomed to a high meltdown." In August, a study showed that Greenland lost a record amount of ice during 2019, with the melt massive enough to cover California in more than 4 feet of water. (By 2100, polar bears might soon be found only in the high Arctic, scientist says.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.