While You Were on Vacation, a Chunk of Ice the Size of an Asteroid Fell Into the Ocean

Imagine Manhattan buried under a thousand feet of ice. That’s how much of Greenland’s Jakobshavn Glacier fell into the Arctic Ocean last week, becoming a 7.8-square-mile iceberg.

“As a single event, this is a fairly rare size,” said Twila Moon, an ice sheet scientist at the University of Oregon. But the phenomenon isn’t unusual, she said, because glaciers in Greenland “pulse” seasonally. That means they break off at their edges and retreat inland in summer, and move back toward the ocean in winter.

Still, the ongoing retreat of the Jakobshavn Glacier is another sign that climate change is further destabilizing the ice sheet covering Greenland, one of the world’s biggest repositories of freshwater. Even with temperatures in the Arctic rising at nearly twice the global average, scientists have been surprised in recent years by the fast melt rate of Greenland’s land-bound ice, which contributes to sea-level rise.

Since the 1990s, the Jakobshavn has failed to regain the ground it loses in summer, and the glacier’s leading edge is now further inland than it has been in 135 years of record-keeping, said Moon.

Read the entire article at Takepart.com