An immense new crack has formed in Greenland’s Petermann glacier, and NASA scientists have now returned the first close-up images of the fissure, which may herald the birth of yet another massive iceberg from the glacier.
Petermann Glacier, located along the northern coast of Greenland, is one of the largest of the island nation’s glaciers that connects the Greenland ice sheet directly to the ocean. The leading end of the glacier, which floats atop water as an immense ice shelf, has already lost enough ice since 2010 to cover the island of Manhattan six times over. Up until 2010, this tongue of ice stretched over 70 kilometers from the ice shelf’s grounding line (the point where the ice is in direct contact with the island’s bedrock) to the leading edge.
On August 5, 2010, a 250 square kilometer ice island broke off from the end of the shelf, then floated out of the glacier’s fjord and into the waters of the Nares Strait, between Greenland and Canada’s Ellesmere Island. >/h1>
It’s area was roughly 4 times larger than the island of Manhattan, and it was considered the largest single chunk of ice lost from the Arctic since 1962. This shortened the ice shelf to just around 55 kilometers long.