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“Ice Island” Twice the Size of Manhattan Set to Break Off from Greenland Glacier

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An enormous ice shelf – two times the size of Manhattan – from the Peterman glacier in North-West Greenland, is on the verge of breaking off and floating out to sea as an island, stunned scientists say.

“Although I knew what to expect in terms of ice loss from satellite imagery, I was still completely unprepared for the gob-smacking scale of the break-up, which rendered me speechless,” said Alun Hubbard, a researcher at Aberystwyth University’s Center for Glaciology in U.K.

Hubbard, who returned to the glacier this July after installing GPS tracking devices on it in 2009, found that it had moved 16-and-a-half feet in the intervening two years, so quickly that the tracking masts had fallen off.

Although the exact date when the “break off” will occur is not known, scientists are worried about the climatic implications of this astounding phenomenon, as melting glaciers contribute to rising sea levels, which have wide-reaching effects around the world.

Almost a year ago, another ice island around four times the size of Manhattan broke off from one of Greenland’s major glaciers.

That fracturing, the largest in Greenland’s recorded history, was taken as another sign of rapid climate change in the Arctic.

“Even though this is a far-off place, changes in the Arctic do influence the rest of us,” Jason Box, a climatologist at Ohio State told OurAmazingPlanet.com, pointing out that rising sea levels can magnify the effects of storm surges and flooding.

Apart from the Petermann Glacier, scientists are also monitoring a second glacier in the region called the Humboldt glacier.

via MSN News
Photo: Alun Hubbard-Aberystwyth University

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