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Researchers film glacier calving massive iceberg in Greenland

10 July 2018

But there is much that scientists have yet to learn about how and why this large-scale breakage happens, which makes it hard to predict when glaciers will fall apart, and how much that glacier disintegration will affect sea levels over time, David Holland, leader of the research team and a professor at New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematics and NYU Abu Dhabi, told Live Science. "By capturing how it unfolds, we can see, first-hand, its breath-taking significance".

This phenomenon, also known as calving (the breaking off of large blocks of ice from a glacier), may also be instructive to scientists and policy makers. That means it would stretch from lower Manhattan to Midtown in New York City, as you can see below.

Helheim Glacier, named after Hel, the Viking realm of the dead, is the fastest flowing glacier on the eastern side of the Greenland Ice Sheet, NASA says.

Scientists have managed to capture on film the moment a huge iceberg breaks away from a glacier in eastern Greenland.

The vast piece of ice that breaks away is described as a tabular iceberg because it is wide and flat.

The event plays out over 30 minutes, though the video has been condensed to around 90 seconds and shows a front-on angle of the glacier's edge, followed by a perspective further down the fjord. But even though the icebergs tossed into the sea here are contributing to sea level rise, scientists still don't know exactly how such break-ups work.

It only took 30 minutes for an iceberg almost half the size of Manhattan to separate from a glacier in Greenland. The video above has been sped up. As it does so, thin and tall icebergs-also known as pinnacle bergs-calve off and flip over.

"Knowing how and in what ways icebergs calve is important for simulations because they ultimately determine global sea-level rise", said Denise Holland. A 2017 estimate suggested that a collapse of the entire Western Antarctic Ice Sheet would result in a 10-feet-rise in sea level - enough to overwhelm coastal areas around the globe, including New York City, according to the researchers.

Researchers film glacier calving massive iceberg in Greenland