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Manhattan-Sized Ice Island Heads Out to Sea

An “ice island” that calved from the Petermann Glacier in July is seen by NASA satellite (MODIS/Terra)

Remember that enormous slab of ice that broke off Greenland’s Petermann Glacier back in July? It’s now on its way out to sea, a little bit smaller than it was a couple of months ago — but not much. At around 10 miles long and 4.6 miles across (16.25 x 7.5 km) this ice island is actually a bit shorter than Manhattan, but is fully twice as wide.

The image above was acquired on September 14 by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite.

Although the calving of this particular ice island isn’t thought to be a direct result of increasing global temperatures, climate change is thought to be a major factor in this year’s drop in Arctic sea ice extent, which is now below 4.00 million square kilometers (1.54 million square miles). Compared to September conditions in the 1980s and 1990s, this represents a 45% reduction in the area of the Arctic covered by sea ice.

Arctic sea ice extent data for June-July 2012 (NSIDC)

This year sea ice in the Arctic Ocean dropped below the previous all-time record, set in 2007. 2012 also marks the first time that there has been less than 4 million square kilometers (1.54 million square miles) of sea ice since satellite observations began in 1979.

The animation below, released today by the NOAA, shows the 2012 time-series of ice extent using data from the DMSP SSMI/S satellite sensor:

Read more here.

About 

A graphic designer in Rhode Island, Jason writes about space exploration on his blog Lights In The Dark, Discovery News, and, of course, here on Universe Today. Ad astra!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • John Dewey September 18, 2012, 1:12 AM

    How do we know that it even gets cold at the poles? I can see North and South from my house and I don’t see anything to make me believe there are even poles at all. I think this ice thing is a big hoax. I mean really? I have never heard of any ice machines at the poles. And what about zambonies(sp?)!! Never seen pictures of those either. All that supposed ice floating around. You ask me, the entire charade is falling apart. I don’t know what the underlying motive is, probably some conspiracy to improve things. Or maybe just some lame attempt to keep things from going to hot Hades in an ice bucket. Harumph. ;-) good article thanks.

    • Jason Major September 18, 2012, 1:51 AM

      They’re clearly manipulating data. I’d like to see the emails made public.

    • SJStar September 18, 2012, 7:06 AM

      Ijiots!

  • H Edward Rivera September 18, 2012, 9:11 AM

    Someone is sure short of a couple of slices of bread on his sandwhich and possibly short on all the ingredients. For Shame. Or a lame attempt at comedy.

    • John Dewey September 18, 2012, 9:47 AM

      Lame attempt at comedy, though comedy is seldom lame when the alternative defies reason.

  • Dampe September 18, 2012, 3:49 PM

    Considering something like 99% of every species that ever existed is now extinct, I couldn’t care less what is (apparently) happening with global temperatures. If we’re heating the planet, once we humans are extinct, It will repair itself. Plus, I’ll be long dead before any of these predicted ‘catastrophic’ events occur.
    Call me selfish, but at least I am honest, not like most of the concerned fake do-gooders out there.

    Now, back to astronomy UT

  • zetetic elench September 18, 2012, 5:49 PM

    you know that represents a lot of quality fresh water. i wonder what the ownership rights got to when it breaks into the sea and drifts away. seems like someone should snag it.

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