Four-mile-long iceberg breaks off Greenland glacier in dramatic video

Google Earth  Denise Holland

"Global sea-level rise is both undeniable and consequential", says David Holland, the leader of the research team and a professor at New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematics. "By capturing how it unfolds, we can see, first-hand, its breath-taking significance".

Holland and his team managed to capture dramatic footage of the process by which this retreat takes place, something known as calving. It's hard to get a sense of scale from the video, but the researchers pointed out in a statement that this iceberg would cover most of Lower and Midtown Manhattan. The chunk of ice that broke away from Greenland's Helheim Glacier during this particular calving event was huge, measuring 6 kilometers (4 miles) in length.

Greenland's glaciers are more accessible, so Holland and his colleagues have spent a decade collecting data and observing glacier behavior in Greenland - and this time they just happened to be perfectly positioned to witness an iceberg splitting away, research team member Denise Holland, the logistics coordinator for NYU's Environmental Fluid Dynamics Laboratory and NYU Abu Dhabi's Center for Global Sea Level Change, told Live Science.

The event was filmed late on June 22 and lasted about 30 minutes. The camera angle then shifts to show movement further down the fjord, where one tabular iceberg crashes into a second, causing the first to split into two and flip over.

The team measured a four-mile area in middle Manhattan, NYC, to illustrate the monumental size of the iceberg. Meanwhile, smaller pinnacle icebergs, which are tall and thin, can be seen calving off and flipping over.

"The range of these different iceberg formation styles helps us build better computer models for simulating and modeling iceberg calving", explains Denise Holland.

A 2017 estimate indicated that if the entire Western Antarctic Ice Sheet collapsed, sea levels would rise about three metres.

In April this year, New York University received a $2.1 million, five-year grant from the National Science Foundation to better understand Antarctic glaciers and the forces behind sea-level rise.

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