While going through images—part of NASA’s Operation IceBridge—experts have made a worrying discovery on one of Greenland’s largest glaciers. The presence of the crack to the center of the glacier has left scientists stumped who are not exactly sure how it formed. Usually, when cracks appear on glaciers they tend to do so on their edges. This one appeared in the center.
Scientists have managed to snap images of a massive, worrisome crack that appeared on one of Greenland’s largest galciers—The Petermann glacier. The worrisome rift was spotted by experts while going through satellite images.
According to experts, the crack raises concerns that the ice shelf might completely crack, breaking off into the ocean.
Back in 2010, a MASSIVE ice bar broke off of the Petermann Glacier, and two years later, in 2012, another massive chunk of ice broke free.
According to reports by the Washington Post, another crack has been spotted stretching towards the center of Petermann’s ice shelf.
Stef Lhermitte, a scientist at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands spotted a brand new crack appearing in the middle of the ice shelf.
Speaking about the worrisome discovery, Lhermitte told Mail Online: “As far as I understand, the island might not break off until later this summer or even next summer. As this part of the ice shelf is already floating the break-off of the island will not affect sea level rise (i.e.floating ice and water have exactly the same volume). But understanding the glacier response to the longer term is important as it holds back a large amount of ice from the Greenland ice sheet.”
.@Petermann_Ice @AndreasMuenchow @glacier_doc @CopernicusEU @ESA_EO Sentinel-2 satellite time series show this new crack for the first time in July 2016. It has been growing since then. 2/5 pic.twitter.com/5dIiLs8kX9
— Stef Lhermitte (@StefLhermitte) April 12, 2017
Like most glaciers on our planet, Petermann is also an ice shelf. This means that it is already floating on the sea, which in turn—as explained by experts—means it does not contribute to the rise of sea levels during its disintegration.
However, ice shelves play an extremely important role in keeping back landlocked ice sheets and glaciers, meaning that with their destruction chunks of frozen water end up in the ocean.
Scientists have noticed that the glacier is crumbling apart and two cracks already on the glacier are moving towards one another—one of them is a lot longer and wider. If these two cracks eventually meet, it would fracture the Petermann Glacier along over half of its total area.
There’s even mystery to it. The presence of the crack to the center of the glacier has left scientists stumped who are not exactly sure how it formed. Usually, when cracks appear on glaciers they tend to do so on their edges. This one appeared in the center.
As noted by the Washington post the crack appeared in the middle of the floating shelf, rather than on one of its sides, as is typical of this glacier — leading Lhermitte to wonder whether it could have been caused by the ocean waters below the shelf.
In addition to what’s going on currently at Greenland, worrying images have been captured all over the planet.
After discovering a MASSIVE crack in the Antarctic ice shelf Larsen C, scientists say that it will soon give away, becoming one of the largest icebergs on the planet. In fact, it might be an iceberg twice the size of the SMALLEST European country.
Larsen C is the FOURTH largest ice shelf in Antarctica and according to reports from Nature, since early this year, its crack has moved at least 10 kilometers more. Currently, the crack is already 175 kilometers long.
Featured image: Preliminary DMS image of the new rift in Greenland’s Petermann Glacier, directly beneath the NASA Operation IceBridge aircraft. (Gary Hoffmann/NASA).
[H/T: Washington Post]