Spalte Glacier Has Disintegrated: A Segment of the Largest Arctic Ice Shelf Shattered Into a Flotilla of Small Icebergs

Spalte Breaks Up

Credit: Contains modified Copernicus data (2020), processed by ESA

This series of four Copernicus Sentinel-2 images captured between June 29 and July 24, 2020, shows a segment of the largest ice shelf in the Arctic break up and shatter into a flotilla of small icebergs totaling an area of around 125 sq km.

The Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden Ice Shelf, also known as 79N, is the floating front end of the Northeast Greenland ice stream — where it flows off the land and out into the ocean. At its leading edge, the 79N glacier splits in two, with an offshoot turning north. It’s this offshoot, or tributary, called Spalte Glacier, that has now disintegrated.

With climate change taking a grip, Spalte Glacier’s final separation from the 79N Ice Shelf comes after some years of progressive disintegration. 79N has retreated by about 23 km since 1990, with significant losses over the last two record-breaking warm summers. Numerous ponds can also be seen on top of the remaining ice shelf, a sign of melting in the recent warm air temperatures. The ocean waters beneath the shelf are also likely to have warmed, increasing the risk of melt from below.

79N only recently took claim of being the Arctic’s largest ice shelf after the Petermann glacier, also in northwest Greenland, lost a lot of ice in 2010 and 2012.

7 Comments on "Spalte Glacier Has Disintegrated: A Segment of the Largest Arctic Ice Shelf Shattered Into a Flotilla of Small Icebergs"

  1. Note to shills being climate change CYNICS for fame money and power here. You are not a skeptic in climate change debate seeing the results as too conservative based in its data not believing in climate change acceleration theory based on foodstuffs and genetics alterations in plants and people and animals we eat as they grow weaker due to temperature changes over time testing.

    A climate change skeptic questions the data based on science theory and evidence having an open mind vs a climate change CYNIC wanting to sell you something or get rich off of trying to be a celebrity getting offended when the data gets debunked and your money gets exposed as you all double down on bad data and worse attitudes in these debates.

  2. The Spalte Glacier has been breaking up for a number of years. Of course the media states this will raise the oceans by 10 feet. What a crock and no science.
    Take the size of the oceans since they all connect somewhere and water finds its low point.
    How big would the glacier have to be to raise the oceans 10 feet. You can calculate Pacific or Atlantic. But truefully it would have to be quite a bit bigger than this glacier.
    You will have to also calculate the glacier – which is ice or water frozen and larger than liquid water back to the volume of liquid water.

  3. the change in climate happens constantly but we are currently entering a interglacial period as compared to the glacial period of 15,000 years that we are leaving.
    It relates more to the orbit of the earth around the sun.
    Closer orbit – interglacial
    Looser or further orbit – glacial.
    But really – go ahead and send money to environmental groups to stop climate change.

  4. Robert M Zumstein | September 16, 2020 at 7:22 pm | Reply

    For those who claim humans are not creating some climate change, go to an in side arena, sit there with no other people, nice and comfortable, now fill it up with a hundred thousand people, that is what we just being a part of the population warms an area, scenario would have Been when you are by your self say the 1700, filled with people 2020, now add all the cars that put out 200 degree heat, the air conditioners that put out massive amounts of heat, the semi trucks needed to bring us products to survive, more heat, we humans create a bunch of heat just being, that you can not deny

  5. There is no doubt that change is always occurring. What has happened is the rate of change has sped up. 13000 years ago this area of Australia was a sere desert, average temperature assessed by examination of geological and organic records, about 20C below zero. Around 12000 years ago the seas rose and this area was inundated. It has been dry now for many thousand years and is livable.

    What is happening now is that the equivalent change is occurring in a few hundred years.

    As for seas rising and drowning the land this glacier is small. There are icebergs around Antarctia that are bigger in extent and thickness. But Greenland is showing us what is happening on a larger scale elsewhere in the land.

    What all the deniers and other sorts of minimisers do not publicly admit is just what a small quick rise in sea level would cause. Most coastal cities would become unlivable all over the world. As most of the western world’s production of medicines, specialist medical equipment, and other necessaries, are made in these cities it will be a case of ‘if this is impaired, then as a consequence, the next step will beimpaired, and so, domino effect’.

    As such effects are not able to be separated out and assessed separately, it will be chaotic (in the mathematical sense). And in countries with right wing and/or inflexible government modes, the changes will be more marked as they refuse to, or are too unintelligent to, react in a timely and roughly correct manner. (Consider the official responses to the Covid19 epidemic around the world.)

    Just a list for consideration: world warms – sea levels rise – pronounced flooding of cities and agricultural land – increased water penetration into fault lines – increased number of earthquakes – bigger storms more often – and you may put whatever upon the list. Then throw in social and industrial process and transport disruptions.

    I worry for my grandchildren.

  6. The hysteria generated by this factual article shows the money still being paid to the unemployable servants of the fossil fuel industry.
    Many thanks for keeping us informed. I had believed that that particular area was not being as badly affected by global warming as you revealed in your article. 👍

  7. Did you kind of notice how it was labeled that the spault glacier disintegrates. In reality it’s a section of the glacier that disintegrated let’s slow down the fear factor if we can and be more factual. This isn’t the HuffPost after all.

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