Scientists capture massive iceberg breaking — and it comes with a serious reminder
Recently published by the university, the footage shows an approximately 6.4-kilometre-long chunk of ice breaking off the Helheim Glacier.
It was captured by NYU scientists David and Denise Holland around 11:30 p.m. local time on June 22, while they were on a research expedition.
“We were almost ready to go to bed, we were closing down the camp and getting ready to go to sleep,” Denise, who works at NYU’s Environmental Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, recounted to Global News.
“I heard a noise that lasted longer than normal, sort of a loud booming sound.”
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She immediately turned on her camera and captured the event, which she explained is not necessarily rare in itself — but capturing it is.
“It’s rare that people are in the right place for such a large event with cameras pointed. We were really fortunate and quite amazed.”
The resulting iceberg, according to the university, is about the size of “lower Manhattan up to Midtown in New York City.”
But the scientists say it sheds light on something far more serious.
David, who is a professor of mathematics at NYU, explained that the breaking of ice from glaciers is known as calving and it contributes to rising sea levels.
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“In the video, you can actually see how the sea level changes,” David said in an interview. “When ice falls, it’s like adding an ice cube to a glass of water.”
The video was recorded over a span of 30 minutes, but condensed to less than two minutes by the university.
It shows one large piece of ice travel into the water, as well as several smaller portions known as “pinnacle bergs.”
David added that Greenland is an ideal place to study such issues, but other places on the planet are more of a threat to global sea levels as climate change occurs.
“The same process is happening down south in Antarctica and the scales are very much larger,” he said. “There sea-level change can actually have a very, very large impact on the planet.”
According to NASA’s National Snow and Ice Data Center, the mass of Greenland’s ice sheet “rapidly declined” between 2002 and 2016. Much of that was due to surface melting and iceberg calving.
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Greenland shed about 280 gigatons of ice yearly during the period, and it led to the global sea level rising by 0.08 millimetres each year.
Greenland holds most of the world’s Arctic ice, but it’s not just Greenland’s glaciers that are predicted to contribute to rising sea levels.
A 2017 study by glaciologists at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) found that Canada’s glaciers have become a major contributor to sea-level changes.
The Queen Elizabeth Islands, which include Ellesmere Island and dozens more, saw surface melt on ice caps and glaciers accelerate by 900 per cent over the course of a decade.
It went from three gigatons per year in 2005 to 30 gigatons per year in 2015, the research showed.
Rising sea levels have a number of consequences on human life, especially those living in coastal areas. It also puts the habitats of wildlife in danger.
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