Tags: glacier | calf | iceberg | jakobshavn | greenland

Glacier Calf That Broke Off Greenland's Jakobshavn Could Be Largest Ever

Image: Glacier Calf That Broke Off Greenland's Jakobshavn Could Be Largest Ever
The Jakobshavn glacier-Greenland's fastest-moving glacier located near Ilulissat-is seen in a NASA image taken by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite August 16, 2015. NASA images released August 20, 2015, show that the glacier shed a large chunk of ice sometime between August 14 and August 16. (NASA Earth Observatory/Handout/Reuters)

By    |   Tuesday, 25 Aug 2015 09:56 AM

A glacier calf, or chunk of ice, measuring nearly five square miles broke away from Greenland's Jakobshavn glacier sometime in August, making it the largest piece to ever break away from one of the world's fastest melting glaciers.

The iceberg was discovered when members of the Arctic Sea Ice Forum noticed the break while examining satellite images of the huge glacier this month, according to The Washington Post. Calving is when ice breaks away from a glacier or ice sheet and falls into the water, the newspaper noted.

"The calving events of Jakobshavn are becoming more spectacular with time, and I am in awe with the calving speed and retreat rate of this glacier," Eric Rignot, a glaciologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said on the space agency's website. "These images are a very good example of the changes taking place in Greenland."

NASA wrote that it was probably premature to call the calving the largest ever because satellite images cannot show whether the ice on the glacier was lost all one time or in a series of smaller breaks.

"Overall, I don't think that they really can nail the 'largest' [calving event] or not," Richard Alley, a glaciologist at Pennsylvania State University, told The Washington Post. "I wouldn't get too excited on this, even though it is not good news."

Jason Box, a glaciologist with the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, told the newspaper there is enough evidence there not to rule out a historic glacial calving. Rignot added that he was impressed "by the sheer size of this calving event."

"This is probably the kind of event that we're going to see more happening on this big ice stream as it retreats further into the deep ice," Rignot said.

NASA scientists said that a large portion of the Greenland Ice Sheet has drained because of the current calving rate and the speed of the Jakobshavn glacier's movement. According to NASA, the Jakobshavn glacier could have the greatest impact on sea levels than any other event in the Northern Hemisphere.

"Jakobshavn, right now, is kind of showing us what it looks like,” Rignot told The Washington Post.

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A glacier calf, or chunk of ice, measuring nearly five square miles broke away from Greenland's Jakobshavn glacier sometime in August, making it the largest piece to ever break away from one of the world's fastest melting glaciers.
glacier, calf, iceberg, jakobshavn, greenland
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2015-56-25
Tuesday, 25 Aug 2015 09:56 AM
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