August 7 (EcoWorld) – A huge ice sheet measuring 100 square miles has broken off of the Petermann Glacier in northwest Greenland. The giant ice sheet has fallen into the water and is likely to begin moving south, where it could interfere with important shipping lanes. In fact, it was an iceberg that broke off from a similar area in Greenland that caused the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. This ice block, however, is much larger than historic separations.
The ice block that has broken free is four times the size of Manhattan, and contains enough fresh water to supply the drinking needs of the entire United States for 120 days, according to University of Delaware researcher Andreas Muenchow.
While it is difficult to determine exactly what caused the giant sheet of ice to break free, climate change is most likely an important factor. Research has shown that the first six months of 2010 are already the hottest on record globally.
The giant floating iceberg is expected to head south and could reach the major shipping lanes within two years.