First we lose Manhattan…

It looks as though the Petermann Ice Tongue in northern Greenland is about to lose another major chunk of ice. This New Scientist video (accompanying text here) shows a team working on the tongue, documenting events as they happen. They expect a major break-up event within weeks:

When this happens, an island of ice the size of Manhattan, spanning 100 km2 holding 5 billion tonnes of ice, will break free and drift out to sea.

Researchers are concerned that the loss of this huge mass of ice might “uncork” the glacier, leading to a speed up and further ice loss.

Last year’s ice island started out at 25 km2, but has moved an amazing distance since it broke off in July 2008. By September it had moved south through Nares Strait (between Greenland and Ellesmere Island), and at that point the Canadian Ice Service installed a GPS tracking beacon. The ice island is now down to 21 km2 in area, drifting off the SE coast of Baffin Island. The massive berg has its own regularly updated page at the Canadian Ice Service (with satellite imagery), and you can follow its daily position here. I wonder how far a new Manhattan-sized island might get…

Meanwhile, the Telegraph reports that huge blobs of organic “goo” up to 15 miles long are appearing in the Chuckchi Sea and to the north of Alaska.

The US Coast Guard told the Anchorage Daily News that the strange find is not an oil product or a hazardous substance of any kind.

“It’s definitely, by the smell and make-up of it, some sort of naturally occurring organic or otherwise marine organism,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Terry Hasenauer. In recent history I don’t think we’ve seen anything like this,” he added.

Results of an analysis are expected next week

5 thoughts on “First we lose Manhattan…”

  1. The Blob.
    1958 horror movie with Steve McQueen.
    The Arctic is where they got rid of the beast.
    But seriously…from what I’ve been reading the shallow Chuckchi Sea has warmed the most of all the Arctic Seas due to inflow from the Pacific Ocean.
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but do not the shallow seas of the Arctic have permafrost beds…or at least used to?
    Perhaps these are ancient weed beds that have thawed and floated to the surface?
    I should wait for the analysis, but this is fascinating.

  2. The UK’s Telegraph has a split personality.

    After all, it is where most of Christopher Booker’s nonsense gets published. 🙂

    I agree that it is interesting, but I think we should wait for peer-reviewed studies before we attach too much weight to “Petty Officer 1st Class Terry Hasenauer.”

  3. The blob is an algae bloom. Nothing more.
    The only unusal thing is its location.
    The locals have never saw anything like it before, so it seems that conditions have changed enough to permit such a thing to happen.

Leave a Reply