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article imageIceberg breaks off in Greenland

By Layne Weiss     Jul 19, 2012 in Science
According to scientists, an iceberg twice the size of Manhattan broke off Greenland's Petermann Glacier, The Associated Press reports.
This is the second time in less than two years that the Petermann Glacier has formed a giant ice island, Reuters reports. In 2010, the glacier unleashed another colossal iceberg into the sea.
According to BBC News, glaciers do calve icebergs naturally, but the intense changes to the Petermann Glacier in recent years have taken many scientists by surprise.
The break was observed by NASA's Aqua satellite, which passes over the North Pole several times day, Reuters reports. It was initially noted by Trudy Wohlleben of the Canadian Ice Service.
Wohlleben said that during this time of year NASA's Aqua satellite is always observing the Petermann Glacier "because it can spawn big icebergs that invade North Atlantic shipping lanes or imperil oil platforms in the Grand Banks off Newfoundland." This happened with the 2010 iceberg, but Wohlleben said it did not cause any damage.
"It is not a collapse, but it is certainly a significant event," said Eric Rignot from NASA.
"It's dramatic. It's disturbing," University of Delaware professor Andreas Muenchow told The Associated Press. Muenchow was one of the first researchers to notice the break.
"We have data for 150 years and we see changes that we not seen before," Muenchow said.
BBC News reports that the calving is not expected to have much impact on sea levels since the ice is already floating.
Scientists such as Andreas Muenchow have raised concerns that the ice around Greenland is thinning likely due to climate changes. Canada and Greenland have both been getting significantly warmer.
Ohio State University ice scientist Ian Howat told The AP this could all be normal calving. Any further loss would prove the calving is not natural.
"We're still in the phase of scratching our heads and figuring out how big a deal this really is."
Glaciers in Greenland aren't the only ones that are melting. Scientists reported that the Arctic had the largest ice sea loss ever for June, The AP reports.
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