credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

The massive 160 square mile (414 sq km) ice island that broke off from Greenland’s Petermann glacier earlier this month is ‘certainly a manifestation of warming’ according to Dr. Richard Bates of the University of St. Andrews, Scotland.

Andrews, a geophysicist, is part of a British-led expedition in Greenland, which is measuring glaciers including the Petermann.

From an article in the Telegraph:

Dr Richard Bates, who is monitoring the ice alongside researchers from America, said the expedition had expected to find evidence of melting this year after “abnormally high” temperatures in the area. Climate change experts say that globally it has been the warmest six months globally [sic] since records began.

The recently observed acceleration in Greenland’s ice sheet melt has prompted some climate scientists to adjust their projections for sea level rise. From an article by AFP:

By some calculations, Greenland’s runoff could boost average sea levels in 2100 by half a metre (one and a half feet) to a metre (3.25 feet) — enough, at the upper end of the range, to lay waste to low-lying coastal cities and drive hundreds of millions of people toward higher ground.

Single specific events like the recent ice island breaking off from the Petermann glacier cannot be simply attributed to global warming, since they are part of a regular seasonal process. However, accelerating rates of ice loss due to warming sea temperatures in Greenland are evidence of a changing climate.

For more on the story listen to or read the following NPR interview with Greenland ice expert and professor of geography at Ohio State University, Jason Box:

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