Petermann Glacier has earned a reputation in recent years for birthing "ice islands"—icebergs so big they get their own designation. Petermann's ice tongue, the portion of the glacier connected to land but still floating, snakes through a fjord for more than 40 miles, making it the largest of its kind north of the equator. Stressed by ice flow behind it, grinding against a rocky coastline, the front of this tongue has set free island-sized icebergs in the summers of both 2010 and 2012. While this shedding of ice is a normal process, NASA scientists are keeping close watch on how Greenland's ice responds to warming air and ocean temperatures, as the ice sheet has shown rapid changes in the past decade. Watch the visualization to see a sped-up animation of how Petermann Glacier empties ice from Greenland's interior to open water.
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Cover photo courtesy of Michael Studinger
Astronaut photos courtesy of Expedition 28 crew
Ice tongue images from ASTER instrument on NASA's Terra satellite
Iceberg calving image from ALI instrument on NASA's EO-1 satellite