University of Delaware Scientist: Greenland Glacier Calves an Ice Island Four Times the Size of Manhattan

Petermann Glacier in 2009

Credit: Andreas Muenchow, University of Delaware
Greenland's Petermann Glacier in 2009.

8/6/2010

A University of Delaware researcher reports that an “ice island” four times the size of Manhattan has calved from Greenland's Petermann Glacier. The last time the Arctic lost such a large chunk of ice was in 1962.

In the early morning hours of August 5, 2010, an ice island four times the size of Manhattan was born in northern Greenland,” said Andreas Muenchow, associate professor of physical ocean science and engineering at the University of Delaware's College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment. Muenchow's research in Nares Strait, between Greenland and Canada, is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Satellite imagery of this remote area at 81 degrees N latitude and 61 degrees W longitude, about 620 miles [1,000 km] south of the North Pole, reveals that Petermann Glacier lost about one-quarter of its 43-mile long [70 km] floating ice-shelf.

Trudy Wohlleben of the Canadian Ice Service discovered the ice island within hours after NASA's MODIS-Aqua satellite took the data on Aug. 5, at 8:40 UTC (4:40 EDT), Muenchow said. These raw data were downloaded, processed, and analyzed at the University of Delaware in near real-time as part of Muenchow's NSF research.

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