Many consequences of climate change can be imperceptible, but others can catch our eye in the most dramatic of ways. One such example is a monumental chunk of ice breaking off a glacier and washing into sea, something dramatically captured on video by a team of scientists in eastern Greenland last week.
"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."
The team was observing the edge of the Helheim Glacier, one of Greenland's largest outlet glaciers and the fastest flowing glacier along the eastern edge of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Scientists have been keeping a close eye on the frozen river as a key indicator of global warming and sea-level rise, with its front retreating around 2.5 miles (4 km) between 1998 and 2013.
Holland and his team managed to capture dramatic footage of the process by which this retreat takes place, something known as calving. The video shows a four-mile (6.4-km) iceberg, which the scientists point out would reach from lower Manhattan to Midtown in New York City, breaking away from the glacier and washing into the sea, .
"Knowing how and in what ways icebergs calve is important for simulations because they ultimately determine global sea-level rise," adds Denise Holland, the logistics coordinator for NYU's Environmental Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, who filmed the calving event. "The better we understand what's going on means we can create more accurate simulations to help predict and plan for climate change."
The event plays out over 30 minutes, though the video has been condensed to around 90 seconds and shows a front-on angle of the glacier's edge, followed by a perspective further down the fjord. Check it out below.
Source: New York University
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