WASHINGTON, July 12 (UPI) — A chunk of a Greenland glacier one-eighth the size of Manhattan broke up, leaving the edge of the glacier farther inland than ever observed, scientists say.
Almost three square miles of the Jakobshavn Isbrae glacier broke up July 6 and 7, causing the glacier’s edge to retreat nearly a mile, a NASA release said.
The breakout is unusual, one scientist says, because it occurred after a warm winter that saw no sea ice forming on the surrounding bay.
“While the exact relationship between these events is being determined,” Thomas Wagner, cryospheric program scientist at NASA, said, “it lends credence to the theory that warming of the oceans is responsible for the ice loss observed throughout Greenland and Antarctica.”
Jakobshavn Isbrae is on the west coast of Greenland and has retreated more than 27 miles over the past 160 years, and six miles in just the past decade.
Researchers have been using satellite imagery to trace changes in the Greenland ice sheet and its glaciers, NASA said.
In the days before the breakup, satellites saw large cracks and crevasses opening in the Jakobshavn Isbrae glacier.
Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.