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Huge ice sheet breaks off Greenland glacier, moves south

By R. C. Camphausen     Aug 7, 2010 in Environment
Researchers have been watching the environment change in Greenland for some time. Now, however, they've noted the largest ice sheet in 50 years is breaking off from the island and moving south where it could interfere with shipping.
Since at least March 2010, the rapid warming of Greenland has been watched by worried scientists from different countries. News coverage has discussed melting ice in May and a retreating glacier in July.
Now, however, a researcher at the Canadian Ice Service discovered a giant sheet of ice has broken off the Petermann Glacier on the north-west coast of Greenland. On satellite images taken early on Thursday, scientists noted the ice is moving south.
According to the BBC, Prof. Andreas Muenchow from the University of Delaware said this is the largest Arctic iceberg to calve since 1962.
If the iceberg continues south, experts warn it could interfere with international shipping routes and may endanger ships in the area.
While it is normal for icebergs to break from Greenland, the size of this sheet is unusually large. The iceberg measures 100 sq miles, or 260 sq km, which is about one quarter of the entire Petermann Glacier's floating ice shelf.
Muenchow said there was enough fresh water locked up in this piece of ice to keep all US public tap water flowing for about four months.
An interesting visualization of ice loss in Greenland, from 2003 to 2009, can be found on the Yale University website.
More about Greenland, Ice sheet, Glacier, Petermann glacier, Ice loss
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