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Satellite Images Show Breakups at Two of Greenland’s Largest Glaciers; Major New Crack

22 August 2008

Petermann_2008_03_aug_a
The recent loss of 29 km2 of glacier. If the Petermann glacier breaks up back to the upstream crack, the loss would be as much as an additional 160 km2 (60 mi2). Click to enlarge. Credit: Byrd Polar Research Center, OSU.

Ohio State University (OSU) researchers monitoring daily satellite images of Greenland’s glaciers have discovered break-ups at the Petermann and Jakobshavn glaciers’s—two of the country’s largest—in the last month. They expect that part of what is the Northern hemisphere’s longest floating glacier will continue to disintegrate within the next year.

Petermann has a floating section of ice 10 miles (16 kilometers) wide and 50 miles (80.4 kilometers) long which covers 500 square miles (1,295 square kilometers). An 11 mi2 (29 km2) piece of the Petermann Glacier in northern Greenland broke away between 10 to 24 July. The loss to that glacier is equal to half the size of Manhattan Island. The last major ice loss to Petermann occurred when the glacier lost 33 square miles (86 square kilometers) of floating ice between 2000 and 2001.

Jason Box, an associate professor of geography at Ohio State, and his colleagues, graduate students Russell Benson and David Decker, all with the Byrd Polar Research Center, also identified what appears to be a massive crack further back from the margin of the Petermann Glacier. That crack may signal an imminent and much larger breakup.

If the Petermann glacier breaks up back to the upstream rift, the loss would be as much as 60 square miles (160 square kilometers),” Box said, representing a loss of one-third of the Petermann tongue.

Meanwhile, the Northern branch of the Jakobshavn broke up in the past several weeks and the glacier has lost at least three square miles (10 square kilometers) since the end of the last melt season. The margin of the Jakobshavn glacier has retreated inland further than it has at any time in the past 150 years it has been observed. Researchers believe that the glacier has not retreated to where it is now in at least the last 4,000 to 6,000 years.

The Jakobshavn Glacier dominates the approximately 130 glaciers flowing out of Greenland’s inland into the sea. It alone is responsible for producing at least one-tenth of the icebergs calving off into the sea from the entire island of Greenland, making it the island’s most productive glacier.

Between 2001 and 2005, a massive breakup of the Jakobshavn glacier erased 36 square miles (94 square kilometers) from the ice field and raised the awareness of worldwide of glacial response to global climate change.

The researchers are using images updated daily from National Aeronautics and Space Administration satellites and from time-lapse photography from cameras monitoring the margin of these and other Greenland glaciers. Additional support for this project came from NASA.

August 22, 2008 in Climate Change | Permalink | Comments (43) | TrackBack (0)

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I blame George Bush.

Obama will fix it.

Many posters will say that those are fake pictures and that Greenland Ice cover is at an all time high.

Polar (North) ice cap is also getting thiner over the last 10+ years.

Wonder when ocean water level will start going up?


Polar (North) ice cap is also getting thiner over the last 10,000+ years.

FTFY

Glaciers carved the mountains where I live. Now the closest Glacier is 1000 miles to the north. Thats alot of melting.

If we extrapolate the arctic melting taking place over the past 10,000 years, over the next 1,000,000 years, we can see that the sea level will easily rise halfway to the moon. This should allow easier transit to the lunar body, as well as better acess to water for space colonies. You must look on the bright side, after all.

Arctic ice is melting faster than expected. I imagine once the ice is gone the heating will go up even faster.

Considering the consensus is that mountain ranges are formed according to plate tectonics, I am curious to know which mountain range was "carved" by glaciers.

Just the Facts:

I live in Alaska, and I can look out my window and see mountains that are literally 'carved by glaciers'; in fact I can see a glacier which is still at work, although it's face is retreating. Around here you can tell how high the ice cap was by looking at the mountain tops. Rounded ones were under the ice, which ground them down; spiky peaks were above the top of the ice (3000 to 5000 feet above where I'm sitting) and retained their rough edges.

I think Joseph is referring to some mountains carved by ice during the last ice age. There should be some in Canada and in the northern US states.

There are some really strange comments here. People trying all kinds of angles to try to deflect the issue. Simply put, here is another symptom of global warming. Face up to it.

It's disturbing to think that ice melt (crack) is taking place in the hottest months of the year. What happens in the coldest?

Al Gore said this above:

"I blame George Bush. Obama will fix it."

I assume that you're joking ....
Very Funny !!!

But, if by chance, you are serious - WTF !!!!


The assumption that Bush broke the environment is just ridiculous.

And the idea that Obama can some how reverse the role of Mother Nature is even more ridiculous.

Anyone who subscribes to this stupid theory should not be allowed to vote. Falling for this flawed logic shows a lack of real world experience.

But that's what Obama is counting on - Young, first time voters who lack any real world experience.
Seasoned voters would never vote for such a light-weight like Obama.

Kids are easily fooled - so thats who Obama is counting on.

In facts, the Democrat party relies heavily on young and naive voters. Thats why they've made global warming a key issue.

Kids are easily sold on flawed logic like the one quoted above.

The Democrat Party will always exist - as long as there are silly first time voters.

Lulu: Arctic ice is melting faster than expected. I imagine once the ice is gone the heating will go up even faster.

Then you imagine wrong. The amount of heat that is being absorbed by melting ice is something like a few 10's of milliwatts per square metre (global average).

Current net radiative forcing is something like 1 to 2 watts per square metre.

@anonymous,

once the ice is gone, the heating WILL go up even faster !
First of all, because the white ice-cover will be replaced by dark water or dark landmass.
Secondly because the melting of the ice can absorb heat without increasing the temperature.

If water levels rise and the atmosphere warms, doesn't that mean that globally, more vegetation & biomass will be produced? If there is significantly more vegetation and biomass than before, won't it absorb the additional CO2 in the environment? Wouldn't CO2 then drop and global cooling eventually occur? It seems to me like a self-correcting system - provided the Brazilians don't chop down the rest of the rainforest & we have a global moratorium on new sources of CO2 (ie. no additional cars & coal fired power plants for China and India).

ExxonJohn doesn't know how many houses he owns, because he is senile. But he sure loves the millions of dollars from the oil companies. Close the big oil tax loopholes? 40 billion dollars more!

Patrick, ignorance is not the lack of knowledge, it is the deliberate act to avoid knowing about something. To believe that warming climate, receding glaciers and melting polar ice caps is all natural and has nothing to do with our combustion of fossil fuels, is by definition ignorance. Thankfully, a majority of republicans and democrats prefer science over ignorance.

1 Calorie heats 1 cc water by 1 degree from 1 - 100oC
but from 80 Calories to see water through the 1 o C from freezing to liquid (phase change)
So that's a somewhat invisible 80 o C equivalent of heat absorbed when ice melts.
So you could say that 80 o C of cooling is required to bring that ice back.(plus any sub zero buffer)

Let you figure out the implications.

As an aside 540 calories to shift same 1cc liquid water to vapour. This would seem on face value to be an important advantage as we approach boiling point.

"If water levels rise and the atmosphere warms, doesn't that mean that globally, more vegetation & biomass will be produced? If there is significantly more vegetation and biomass than before, won't it absorb the additional CO2 in the environment?"

http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/climate-change/dn11655

I keep hearing all the blather about how the oceans will rise as the glaciers melt along with all the tales of extremely high glacier melting rates ( which should have caused significant ocean rise if they were true) and yet Florida still exists as a sandbar and Venice isnt totally flooded out. Losing Florida wouldnt be a big deal, I doubt many people would care).
At the rate China is expanding and polluting there wont be much effect even if everyone else reduces their emissions.

There are some who deny there is a problem ...
There are lots who think we are not the problem ...

and a few who realize we can change our use of fossil fuels to renewable fuels, and begin fixing the problem (and get rich doing it).

Are you one who is in denial, or one who wants change?

Alain: once the ice is gone, the heating WILL go up even faster!

Do the arithmetic: the effect will be negligible.

First of all, because the white ice-cover will be replaced by dark water or dark landmass.

Surface area of Greenland is well under 1% of the planet.

Antarctica is about 3%, but we don't need to worry about that melting for some thousands of years.

Secondly because the melting of the ice can absorb heat without increasing the temperature.

I'm figuring about 10mW/m^2 of absorption for every millimeter rise of sea level per year.

Current radiative forcing is about 100 times larger than this.

Why is it that environmentalists tend to worry about utterly insignificant things? Isn't simple global warming bad enough for you?

John Taylor: (and get rich doing it)

This is why many people are deeply suspicious of the entire "green" movement, and handily explains a good deal of the irrational argument against global warming. Is this just wealth redistribution by some other name? That the government is regularly encouraged to get involved and help 'solve' the problem doesn't help alleviate this perception.

It seems that many posters have shares in money making oil producers and distributors.

(and get rich doing it)

If you put up wind turbines, or solar panels or begin manufacturing these ... then you are in business to get rich, as well as being in business to achieve a good result world wide.

Voting for politicians that will co-operate in changing our infrastructure is a necessity for these businesses.

The very work of rebuilding a crumbling infrastructure is necessary, and doing it to accommodate the green revolution will be opening the door to a new economic prosperity (even if there really is no global warming problem).

Bottom line ... a green future is best for nearly everyone, ... but ... an oil /fossil fuel future is only best for those with a monopoly on the oil and other fossil fuels.

Methane hydrates are the biggest concern. Once the oceans warm to the point of melting the methane hydrates, the positive feedback cycle will kick into overdrive - methane's global warming potential is 20 times that of CO2.

What's the worry?

Nothing short of mass extinction!

All creatures will gasp for breath as the oxygen content in the atmosphere begins its precipitous drop.

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