Don’t believe that climate change is real? This time last year, a piece of ice 4 times the size of Manhattan broke off the Petermann Glacier in Greenland, spurring a congressional hearing on climate change and global warming. As of July this year, researchers have their eyes on another section, about half the size of the last one, ready to make the break as well. The giant broken piece from last year was the largest anyone had seen in nearly 150 years. Now slowly melting and floating away into remote waters, the ice island was estimated by scientists to store enough fresh water to keep the Delaware and Hudson Rivers flowing for more than two years and keep all U.S. tap water flowing for over 100 days.
In 2009, researchers Alun Hubbard from Aberystwyth University, U.K. and Jason Box of the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University installed GPS trackers onto the glacier to track its movement. When they returned this July, the ice had melted so quickly that many of the trackers were no longer in place. The 12 mile wide glacier seemed to have melted 16 and a half feet in only two years. Hubbard said “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.”
Though last year’s break caught the government’s attention, it was decided that there was not enough scientific evidence to prove the melting was directly related to global warming. Still, we have to say the facts are pretty hard to ignore. The new giant rift in the glacier, appropriately nick-named “The Big Kahuna” by researchers, is slowing growing before their eyes. Hubbard and Box believe it will break off sometime next year, if not earlier, and will hopefully gain the right amount of attention and action this time.
images from Byrd Polar Research Center