The Jakobshavn glacier in Greenland is now experiencing an ice calving event that lead to the loss of five square miles of ice. The calving event which is the most dramatic one that ever occurred so far to the Jakobshavn glacier took place between August 14 and August 16. The glacier started being monitored in the mid-1880s.
NASA revealed images from satellite with how the glacier looked before and after the calving event. Glaciologist Eric Rignot from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said that these calving events which the glacier is going through are more extraordinary as the time passes by.
The Jakobshavn glacier is draining 6.5 percent of the ice sheet that exists in Greenland. This is the equivalent of ten percent of the ice bergs existing in the ice sheet. This further means 38.6 tons of ice that will be calved every year. The melting of glaciers has a greater impact on the rising levels of the sea than any other phenomenon in the Northern Hemisphere.
The radar images from NASA suggest that from July 27 to August 13, before the ice calving started, the glacier firstly moved westwards. After the calving the ice retreated and the glacier lost 4.8 square miles of ice. If we were to assume that the ice is around 4.600 feet deep the volume of the ice lost will be 4.2 cubic miles. This amount could be enough to cover Manhattan with an ice layer that is approximately 985 feet thick.
Scientists have been studying the Jakobshavn glacier for over 250 years. Events similar to this recent one were reported in 2010 and even earlier in 2015 when the glacier lost 2.7 square miles of ice. Glaciologist Ian Joughin at the University of Washington’s Polar Science Center remarked:
We are now seeing summer speeds more than four times what they were in the 1990s, on a glacier which at that time was believed to be one of the fastest, if not the fastest, glacier in Greenland.”
Studying this glacier has highly helped them understand more about climate change and how it affects sea levels and about the important role of ice streams and glaciers in icecap glaciology.
Image Source: earthobservatory.nasa.gov