petermanicesheet

Scientists just found a strange and worrying crack in one of Greenland’s biggest glaciers

Scientists examining satellite images of one of Greenland’s largest glaciers believe they have found an unexpected new crack in its floating ice shelf that could contribute to a dramatic break in coming years.

The Petermann Glacier, located in the high Arctic at 80 degrees North latitude, is one of the most important outlets by which the Greenland ice sheet extends and flows into the sea. In 2010 and 2012, it lost extremely large pieces, each several times the size of Manhattan, from its ice shelf, which floats on top of the waters of a fjord whose depth exceeds that of the Grand Canyon.

These changes captured the world’s attention — and greatly shrank this floating shelf that stabilizes the glacier by attaching to the walls of the fjord in which it lies. That’s a big deal because Petermann Glacier holds back about a foot of potential sea level rise from the Greenland ice sheet.

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On Sept 19, 2023 ahead of the Climate Ambition Summit in New York City, climate activists gathered for a rally and civil disobedience outside Bank of America Tower in Midtown Manhattan as part of the March to End Fossil Fuels wave of actions resulting in multiple arrests. Activists demand Bank of America to “Defund Climate Chaos and Defend Human Rights” Photo: Erik McGregor (CC BY-NC 2.0 Deed)

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Illustration by Stephanie McMillan. Used with permission