A video shows a 4-mile-long iceberg breaking away from Helheim Glacier, which has been known since 1997 as the fastest flowing glacier along the Greenland ice sheet.
To give context on how big the separated iceberg is, the scientists who recorded the video said it can stretch from lower Manhattan up to Midtown in New York City.
The highlight of the video, however, is how the sea level is rising as the ice from the glacier enters the ocean. This proves that Greenland ice sheet, which is considered only as the second largest ice body next to the Antarctic ice sheet, is also a major driver of global sea level rising, the scientists said.
Dramatic Video Captures Breaking Of Glacier In Greenland
The video shows the moment when a wide and flat iceberg is breaking off and moving away from the glacier. While this is happening, other icebergs of various sizes, also known as pinnacle bergs, are also separating and flipping over. As the camera focuses on the ice movement further down the inlets, it captures two tabular icebergs crashing into each other. One of them splits into two and flips over.
The scientists, led by David Holland, a professor at NYU's Courant Institute of Mathematics and NYU Abudhabi, said the phenomenon, known as calving, lasted for 30 minutes but they condensed the video to approximately 90 seconds. The team recorded the footage on June 22.
The video will be important in predicting climate change and planning on how it should be addressed.
"Knowing how and in what ways icebergs calve is important for simulation [models] because they ultimately determine global sea-level rise," said Denise Holland, one of the researchers behind the video.
Ice Melting Rapidly Than Before
The recent incident captured at Greenland is only one among the many events where a major iceberg had already broken off or had rapidly melted.
The thawing in Thwaites Glacier in the Western Antarctic ice sheet, which already increased global sea level by 4 percent, has doubled since the mid-1990s. In 2017, experts estimated that melting of entire Western Antarctica would be enough to flood coastal areas worldwide, including New York City.
Indeed, on June 13, a study found that West Antarctica saw the most drastic ice melting in the region. It already lost 58.4 billion tons of ice per year in the 1990s and has been losing 175.3 billion tons of ice a year.
Meanwhile, the whole of Antarctica has lost a total of 241.4 billion tons of ice between 2012 and 2017. The sea level increased by 0.12 inch within the same period.
NASA has been observing Helheim Glacier since 1997. The agency is collecting data through an airborne laser altimeter called the Airborne Topographic Mapper.
NASA found that Helheim's Glacier retreated about 2.5 miles between 1998 and 2013, thinning by approximately 330 feet during that period. It was also found to have increased the amount of ice it is dumping into the sea between 2000 and 2005.
Subsequent data from NASA showed that Helheim has been recovering. This present video, however, can reverse that observation.