climate change

A Massive Piece of the Arctic’s Largest Ice Shelf Has Shattered

Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

As the world burns, it also melts at an alarming rate. The latest red flag went up in Greenland, where a chunk of ice encompassing 42 square miles broke off the territory’s ice cap and shattered, a devastation to the ecosystem brought on by rapid climate change.

Jason Box, a professor working with the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), which tracks shrinking ice masses using satellite imagery, said in a statement on Monday, “We should be very concerned about what appears to be progressive disintegration at the Arctic’s largest remaining ice shelf.” Box told CNN, “These last two summers have been exceptionally warm,” and the rate of melting “has really picked up these last couple of years.” GEUS said on Monday the ice mass broke off a fjord called Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden, which is about 50 miles long and 12 miles wide. Greenpeace Nordic Oceans campaigner Laura Meller called the break “yet another alarm bell being rung by the climate crisis in a rapidly heating Arctic.”

Greenland’s ice shelf is the largest in the Arctic, and second largest in the world behind Antarctica. A recent study conducted by researchers at Ohio State University concluded that the melting in Greenland (62 square miles of ice since 1999, roughly twice the size of Manhattan) has been so devastating that even the slowing of climate change couldn’t save the ice sheet at this point. Already the ice sheet’s disintegration due to warming temperatures contributes upwards of a millimeter to rising sea levels each year.

And rising sea levels, of course, will continue to have devastating effects on communities the world over. Michaela King, an author of the Ohio State study, told CNN last month, “There’s a lot of places, like in Florida especially, where one meter alone [of sea-level rise] would cover a lot of existing land areas, and that’s exacerbated when you get storms and hurricanes and things like that, that then cause extra surge on top of a higher baseline.” And the destruction of the world’s ice sheets has been relentless. Just last month it was reported that Canada’s last fully intact ice shelf collapsed into the Arctic sea.

Meanwhile, the powerful Hurricane Sally continued its approach toward the Gulf Coast on Tuesday, prompting the National Hurricane Center to warn of possible “historic and life-threatening flooding” in parts of Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida. Elsewhere, President Trump made further outrageous statements on Monday, denying the impact of global warming during a press briefing on the cataclysmic California wildfires, which have become more powerful in recent years due to climate change.

Yet Another Terrifying Alarm Bell on Climate Change