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100-Sq.-Mile Ice Island Breaks Off Greenland Glacier 323

Posted by kdawson
from the many-titanics-worth dept.
suraj.sun sends word of a 100-sq.-mile (260-sq.-km) ice island that broke off of a Greenland glacier on Thursday. "The block of ice separated from the Petermann Glacier, on the north-west coast of Greenland. It is the largest Arctic iceberg to calve since 1962... The ice could become frozen in place over winter or escape into the waters between Greenland and Canada. ... [NASA satellite] images showed that Petermann Glacier lost about one-quarter of its 70-km-long (43-mile) floating ice shelf. There was enough fresh water locked up in the ice island to 'keep all US public tap water flowing for 120 days,' said Prof Muenchow." The Montreal Gazette has more details and implications for Canadian shipping and oil exploration, along with this telling detail: "the ice island’s thickness [is] more than 200 metres in some places... [or] half the height of the Empire State Building." The NY Times has a good satellite photo of the situation.
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100-Sq.-Mile Ice Island Breaks Off Greenland Glacier

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  • How big is this thing?
    • by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @06:52PM (#33176432) Journal
      It is approximately the on the same scale, to the oceans, as that of a candy bar in a swimming pool.

      And it will cause almost as much excitement.
      • by Sovetskysoyuz (1832938) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @07:42PM (#33176720)
        Volume of a 15 x 2 x 3 cm chocolate bar: 9e-5 cubic metres
        Volume of an Olympic swimming pool: 2.5e3 cubic metres
        Volume ratio is 1 : 2.78e7
        Total volume of the oceans is 1.3e18 cubic metres
        Iceberg volume, in the same ratio as chocolate bar : swimming pool, would be 4.68e10 cubic metres
        If the iceberg is 200 m thick, then the area is 234 square kilometres.
        The area of the iceberg, according to the article, is 260 square kilometres
        O.o
        You, sir, have astounding powers of estimation.
      • and who has in his computer a file called 'baby ruth-pool'
        kept to print as needed when the pool will be shut down for events 'beyond our control'

        I'm here to tell you bud, a candy bar sized object in the pool can CREATE SOME VERY FUCKING SERIOUS EXCITEMENT!

    • A buddy from the US Air Force said, "Oh, a posting in Greenland is great! There is a horny chick behind every tree! The only problem is, there ain't no trees!"

      Not that that would matter for Slashdot folks.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by EdIII (1114411)

      I believe that if we were to host an endless block party on it with 10,000 people, using the ice for drinks, martinis, and smoothies, we could do so far approximately 42 days.

      • There must be coolers of Bud Light just waiting in the center of the ice! Let's get up there before it melts! The ice I mean.
  • Perhaps we'll get a repeat of the Titanic disaster? [paullee.com]
  • by Eric_Utah (55690)

    I'm curious what technical challenges would have to be overcome to actually recover this frozen water. Many parts of the world are undergoing severe freshwater shortages. A very large block of frozen water seems like it could be very useful to answer that problem. Could getting at least part of it into into a reservoir be technically / economically possible?

    Off the top of my head, I was musing about getting it into the Great Lakes, but the channels and locks in the Great Lakes Waterway are obviously far

    • the biggest challenges are that of scale (you would have to somehow dock ships next to it and then either

      1 chop it into shipping container sized blocks and get them onto the ships
      2 tow it to somewhere they can melt it down and pump it into cargo ships

      i would think that making sure it doesn't cream a tanker (or other shipping) should be the biggest concern.

    • by EdIII (1114411)

      I don't think you have any idea just how big this is. That is 10 miles by 10 miles. It is an iceberg as well. That means it is probably a couple hundred feet below the surface of the water as well.

      Assuming just 100 feet deep in the water we are talking about 2,069,680,199,348 gallons of water. The largest dry dock in the world could barely hold a percentage of that mass. You would think you could split it up with explosives, but it would be a very dangerous endeavor requiring a huge amount of explosive

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        Apparently it's been done - [athropolis.com]with icebergs, not monsters like this. Seem to recall that Arthur Clarke proposed this idea in the 70s as a remedy for freshwater shortages.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Jarik C-Bol (894741)
        actually it looks like its about... 25km long, and about uh.. 7-9 km wide at its widest point. its 200m thick, and ice tends to do that 2/3rds of it is underwater thing, so about 400 feet of it are under water. This is not to say that you further examples are flawed, just that the berg is *HUGE*
  • But... but... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Saturday August 07, 2010 @07:25PM (#33176642) Homepage

    But global warming is a lie by the liberals! It's all made up, Fox told me! How can this be happening?!

    • by Skapare (16644)

      Listen to Wolf instead of Fox.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770)

      Well if this is proof of global warming, then a snowstorm in the summer must be proof there is no global warming right? Or is climate different from weather?

      This is something that has always annoyed me about the GW debate (or more like GW screaming match). When something bad happens, a glacier breaks off, there's a strong hurricane, or when the weather is unseasonably hot people say "See? See! Global warming! Look at the bad shit happening!" However when the opposite is true, when things are unseasonably co

      • Re:But... but... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Surt (22457) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @08:44PM (#33177124) Homepage Journal

        Out of curiosity, can you point to any specific individual who wants to have it both ways, or is the problem that both sides are composed of a small number of rational people, and a lot of screaming loons?

        • by nten (709128) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @09:30PM (#33177334)

          I'm not a loon, it really is an envirocommunist worldwide conspiracy to overthrow the illuminati oil-lords. That only seems far fetched to those who uses non-rectal sources for their news. Step back a bit, look at the situation as a whole, and forget about the day to day details (facts at a high enough rate are just noise), then pull out a theory. Your colon can come up with interesting patterns, and facts are unnecessary ingredients for their assemblage.

        • Re:But... but... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by mevets (322601) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @10:19PM (#33177540)

          It appears one side has a lot more rational people than the other; and the other has a lot louder loons. Both sides will doubtlessly agree.

          ---
          Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative. J S Mill

      • by bidule (173941)

        This is something that has always annoyed me about the GW debate (or more like GW screaming match). When something bad happens, a glacier breaks off, there's a strong hurricane, or when the weather is unseasonably hot people say "See? See! This event counters your 'unseasonably cool' argument. Are you still going to denie Global warming! Look at the bad shit happening!" However when the opposite is true, when things are unseasonably cool, or when the weather is nice and mild (so far this year's hurricane season is shaping up to not be that intense) the screams are "Weather is not climate! You cannot look at isolated events and try to use them as proof!"

        The "See? See!" quote is not a proof of GW, but a counter-proof to every "Weather is climate" denialists claims. Next time add in the bold yourself, now that you know what they really meant.

  • Nukes (Score:4, Funny)

    by Alcoholist (160427) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @08:02PM (#33176842) Homepage

    Let's nuke the bastard. That'll take care of it. It worked in Armageddon.

  • by kenh (9056)

    I can hear the commenters all across the internet now - "I've never studied anything about the arctic or the antarctic ice caps, climatology, or for that matter earth sciences in any real depth, but I KNOW this is proof of (insert really bad thing here)!"

    Of course, to save time, most folks leave off the pre-amble and get right to the "I KNOW this is proof of (insert really bad thing here)!" (The not knowing what you are writing about is just assumed...)

  • almost a question (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kqc7011 (525426)
    According to the article this is the largest iceberg since 1962, early 60's global warming?
  • I know they have some serious water supply problems in Africa ... so ... thoughts on just how hard it would be to tow this thing there? What are the challenges beyond boat power and grappling such a large yet fragile mass? How much would melt by the time it arrived?

    • I know they have some serious water supply problems in Africa ... so ... thoughts on just how hard it would be to tow this thing there? What are the challenges beyond boat power and grappling such a large yet fragile mass? How much would melt by the time it arrived?

      Well, this is true for lots of areas, not just Africa. If Australia suddenly had a LOT more water, look at all that western land they could irrigate, a'la California. The problem with just towing it is that even if you get most of it where you want, you still have the problems of getting the water ashore, and of coastal temperatures dropping rapidly.... but temporarily... and affecting local sea life.

      The better thing then would be to build more coastal desalinators and simply pump the fresh water inland via

  • Bad Science (Score:5, Insightful)

    by retardpicnic (1762292) <retardpicnic@gmail.com> on Saturday August 07, 2010 @08:57PM (#33177200)

    Gets used here.... alot.
    Arguments both for or againsts a scientific problem should be framed as defendable proofs.
    We know that the top of Earth's atmosphere receives 342 watts of energy, in the form of sunlight, per square meter. Note that 107 W/m2 of this energy is reflected or scattered back into space by clouds, the atmosphere, and high-albedo features on Earth's surface. So, only 235 W/m2 (342 - 107) of energy actually make it into the atmosphere, and shines down upon us giving me women in miniskirts and the ability to grow food (both of which are....awesome)
    Furthermore, we know that 67 W/m2 of the incoming energy is absorbed by the atmosphere, and another 168 W/m2 is absorbed by Earth's surface. When energy is absorbed, it raises the temperature of the substances that absorb it (the atmosphere and surface of our planet, in this case); this causes those substances to radiate away that heat in the form of IR radiation. We can all agree that these are not simply my opinions right? For those of who are are unfarmiliar, these are called facts, lets keep going.
    About 390 W/m2 of IR energy starts upward from the surface, this difference being caused by longwave radiation needing an atmospheric window that does not have a lot of water vapor or gas molocules containing three or more atoms (i realize this is incomplete, i am atempting to simplify). The more of these conditions present in our atmosphere, the harder it is for longwave radiation to escape. So when we spew into the environment, and what we need to agree on is that adding vapor and GHG's to the environment increases the GW potential... right? Keep your fucking anecdotes to yourself, Using these things called facts we can see that keeping equilibrium becomes more difficult when we insist on changing the atmosphere. So don;t tell me you got two colds last year and only on this year so we are getting warmer, or that your uncle your uncles garden got frosted early thid year so we are geting colder. Or about ICEBERGS, this is an atmospheric issue, give me meaningful data about that and i will listen. Anyone who thinks that chnging the composition of our atmosphere will not result in temp change needs to back to school.

     

    • Thank you. This is what we need for meaningful discussion, not ranting and raving about various one off pieces of 'evidence' And of course, once again, I find myself reiterating my stance on "fixing' AGW.

      Anything We Do To Fix It, Must Not Cause Harm IF We Are In Error.

      seriously, In the last year, I have seen, here on /. as well as from many other news sources, the following ideas:
      1. genetically re-engineering kangaroos to not pass methane.
      2. genetically re-engineering cows to not pass methane.
      3. spr
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by evilpenguin (18720)

      Insolation at the top of the atmosphere is approximately 1360 watts per square meter. Where do you get "342?" Are you perhaps considering only part of the spectrum?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insolation [wikipedia.org]

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It's the difference between insolation at noon at the equator and averaged over the Earth. Area of a circle is pi*r^2, of a sphere 4*pi*r^2. The ration is 4, and 1360/4 is 340.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by evilpenguin (18720)

          That's beautiful, except the 1300 watt figure is already an average. I'm by no means an expert, but I have had a long time interest in solar PV, and the energy at the surface where I live for a flat plate collector aimed at solar noon is quite close to 1000 watts per square meter. Now, a mono or plycrystalline silicon panel, with its indirect bandgap absorption is only going to collect something on the order of 1/5 to 1/10 of that energy, but that doesn't change the fact that it is there.

          I actually agree wi

      • about 1000W of that makes it to the ground, depending on what the water vapor is doing. Maybe the OP means that that's the amount specifically absorbed by the atmosphere?

  • ...just the size of Montreal.

  • Aren't they supposed to work to protect us from these type of stories. Does not /. rate a Patriot group, are we not as good as Digg?
  • Why would a headline be looking at area instead of volume? They give us some numbers (in statues of libertys). Do we not have any estimates?

    It's like people that harp on Antarctic ice increasing, when most of that's because it's warm enough to snow and that new ice coverage is not very thick.

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