On Aug. 5, 2010, an enormous chunk of ice, roughly 97 square miles (251 square kilometers) in size, broke off the Petermann Glacier, along the northwestern coast of Greenland. The Canadian Ice Service detected the remote event within hours in near real-time data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite. The Petermann Glacier lost about one-quarter of its 70-kilometer (40-mile) long floating ice shelf, said researchers who analyzed the satellite data at the University of Delaware.
This image fade shows how the Petermann Glacier appeared in late July and early August. On Aug. 5, 2010, an enormous chunk of ice broke off the Petermann Glacier, along the northwestern coast of Greenland. The chunk was roughly 97 square miles in size, about four times the size of Manhattan Island. (no audio)
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured these natural-color images of Petermann Glacier 18:05 UTC on August 5, 2010 (top), and 17:15 UTC on July 28, 2010 (bottom). The Terra image of the Petermann Glacier on August 5 was acquired almost 10 hours after the Aqua observation that first recorded the event. By the time Terra took this image, skies were less cloudy than they had been earlier in the day, and the oblong iceberg had broken free of the glacier and moved a short distance down the fjord.
Icebergs calving off the Petermann Glacier are not unusual. Petermann Glacier’s floating ice tongue is the Northern Hemisphere’s largest, and it has occasionally calved large icebergs. The recently calved iceberg is the largest to form in the Arctic since 1962, said the University of Delaware.
Map of Greenland showing approximate location of Petermann Glacier. Credit: NASA
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NASA Earth Observatory images created by Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon, using data obtained from the Goddard Level 1 and Atmospheric Archive and Distribution System (LAADS). Caption by Holli Riebeek and Michon Scott.