Greenland Glacier break-up

by Richard on September 5, 2011

I haven’t written a ‘global warming’ post in a while, but that doesn’t mean that the issue has gone away. In fact, the evidence for anthropogenic climate change continues to mount. A story appears on the BBC website that might well be a further link in the chain.

‘Gob-smacking’ scale of Petermann Glacier break-up

New pictures have revealed the extent to which a huge glacier in northern Greenland has broken up in just two years, claims a glaciologist.

Dr Alun Hubbard of Aberystwyth University said he was “gob-smacked” by the scale of the Petermann Glacier’s break-up since he last visited in 2009.

The glacier is 186 miles (300km) long and 3,280ft (1000m) high - over three times the height of the Eiffel Tower.

Last year, it shed a piece of ice measuring 77 square miles (200 sq km).

Dr Hubbard has been researching the Greenland ice sheet for some years.

His team of researchers and scientists from Aberystwyth and Swansea universities have made several trips to the country.

“It’s like looking into the Grand Canyon full of ice and coming back two years later to find it’s full of water.”

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }


klem 09.06.11 at 6:40 pm

“Last year, it shed a piece of ice measuring 77 square miles (200 sq km).”

Um, glacial ice is three dimensional, so 77 square miles could be 1 inch thick or 1 mile thick. How thick was the 77 square mile sheet?

Well even if it is 77 cubic miles of ice, Greenland is covered with 680,000 cubic miles of ice. That 77 cubic miles is still insignificant. Once again, all is normal.



Tony Buglass 09.07.11 at 10:01 am

“That 77 cubic miles is still insignificant. Once again, all is normal.”

Well, it’s only ‘normal’ if the glacier sheds 77 square miles every year. That’s 77 sq miles of ‘normal glacier thickness’ - is that what he meant by “1,000m high”? If so, we’re talking of something like 150 cubic miles of ice. Even in the context of the North Atlantic, that’s not exactly insignificant.

Having said that, I seem to remember seeing a report in the last month or so that all the fresh meltwater flowing into the Atlantic might be feeding the deep currents of the escalator system, rather than pushing into the ocean and changing temperature and salinity gradients. There was some speculation that the latter process might be the reason why the jetstream has been positioned further south than normal, so giving us the lousy summers we’ve had for the last couple of years.

Don’t know about the meltwater bit of the theory, but I wish the jetstream would go back north…

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