Awesome Greenland Glacier Calving

July 13, 2018


All was quiet on June 22 as Canadian husband-and-wife scientists David and Denise Holland settled in for the night off Greenland’s Helheim Glacier.

The glacier researchers from New York University had spent four nights on the south side of Helheim but had just set up camp on the north side. Denise had positioned her video camera — just in case — when she heard a noise that seemed to carry on “for an extended period of time.”

That noise was a major breakup of the glacier that lasted more than 30 minutes.

Massive pieces of ice half a kilometre high broke off. The water roiled as the new icebergs rolled and crashed. Then the larger chunk of ice, estimated to be roughly half the size of New York’s Manhattan Island, began its journey to the sea.

In the end, a piece of ice almost seven kilometres long and one kilometre thick broke off. Five to eight billion tons of ice was lost. It is one of the biggest glacier calving events captured on video.

“It’s a very loud booming sound that echoes across the fjord from one side to the other as different pieces of ice start to break off. It’s just this incredible loud sound,” says Denise Holland, logistics coordinator for NYU’s Environmental Fluid Dynamics Laboratory and NYU Abu Dhabi’s Center for Global Sea Level Change.

“It’s like a billion ice cubes at once,” David Holland says. “It’s that kind of cracking sound.”

It’s events like this — considered a significant glacier loss — that deeply concern glaciologists and climatologists about the consequences to global sea levels. This video may assist scientists in making predictions.

2 Responses to “Awesome Greenland Glacier Calving”

  1. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    The way that first mass just floated levelly across suggests that there was pretty good clearance underneath it. So much of the deglaciating work is done by eating the ice away underwater before the section gets destabilized.

    We surface dwellers have to work to remain aware of how much goes on out of site below us.

  2. John Kane Says:

    AFAIK this is not related to the iceberg calving but it is a dramatic picture of having an iceberg in the neigbourhood.

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