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Enormous iceberg breaks off from Greenland glacier

  • Author: Craig Medred
  • Updated: September 27, 2016
  • Published July 18, 2012

An enormous iceberg broke away from Greenland's Petermann Glacier on Monday, the second such iceberg set adrift from the ice sheet in two years, according to researchers at the University of Delaware.

Media around the country are breathlessly describing the iceberg as "twice the size of Manhattan," a size that's a little hard to envision. Even then, this iceberg is only about half the size of the one that broke off in 2010, which was more than 100 square miles in area and up to 700 feet thick at its tallest points. That was the largest piece of Arctic ice to be lost since 1962.

Now, just two years later, another huge chunk of ice has broken away. Scientists said it's too early to say if climate change and global warming are to blame for the recent ice loss, though the air in northern Greenland has warmed at an annual rate of about .10 degrees Celsius since 1987, according to University of Delaware researcher Andreas Muncheow. Researchers were anticipating the recent break, so it didn't come as a huge surprise.

While a calving glacier isn't uncommon, two huge icebergs breaking in such close proximity is unprecedented, according to the researchers monitoring the glacier's activity. Much of Greenland is covered in an ice sheet, and the Petermann Glacier is in the high-Arctic, northwest part of the country.

Scientists managed to capture the 2010 ice sheet breaking away on a time-lapse video. You can check it out below.

You can also read much more about the recent iceberg activity, at the University of Delaware website.

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