The speedy glacier lost a chunk nearly 5 miles square last week.
That’s a lot of liquid. Greenland has lost a massive chunk of ice roughly the size of Manhattan in what scientists are calling one of the most significant “calving” incidents ever.
As CBS reports, Greenland glacier is the second largest ice body in the world. It frequently loses or “calves” ice off its side, up to 35 million tons of ice per year. Scientists currently estimate the glacier is melting faster than it has in any point in the last 165 years.
Observers noticed the newest loss via the European Space Agency (ESA)’s weather satellites. The ESA reports that the Jakobshavn glacier, which produced the iceberg that sank the Titanic, had calved a significant section sometime between August 14 and August 16. The chunk is estimated to be about 17.5 cubic kilometers in volume, enough to cover Manhattan in 1,000 feet of ice.
As the Washington Post writes, if the estimated size of the ice chunk is correct, it may be the largest ever on record.
Greenland is one of the Earth’s largest contributors to sea rise. Its ice loss is responsible for about 1 millimeter per year, but potentially could contribute 20 feet to the base sea level.
Scientists disagree on whether the latest loss is cause for panic but glacier melting is certainly not positive. Richard Alley, a glaciologist at Pennsylvania State University, wrote, “Overall I don’t think they really can nail [this event as] the largest….even though this is not good news.”