Saturday, August 7, 2010

Ice Island Breaks

According to researchers from the University of Delaware, a 260 square kilometer ice island has broken away from an ice shelf in Greenland. As a frame of reference, this is roughly 4 times the size of Manhattan island. It's the most massive piece of ice to break off the Arctic icecap since 1962. This satellite image from August 5, 2010 shows the large ice island calved from Greenland's Petermann Glacier.

"The freshwater stored in this ice island could keep the Delaware or Hudson rivers flowing for more than two years. It could also keep all U.S. public tap water flowing for 120 days," lead researcher Andreas Muenchow estimates.

"The newly born ice island may become land-fast, block the channel, or it may break into smaller pieces as it is propelled south by the prevailing ocean currents. From there, it will likely follow along the coasts of Baffin Island and Labrador, to reach the Atlantic within the next two years."

According to environmentalists this rapid ice melting is being caused by global warming, as Arctic temperatures in the 1990s reached their warmest level of any decade in the last 2000 years. Some predict that within decades the Arctic Ocean will become ice free in summer months. (Image: Andreas Muenchow)

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