Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 29 October 2020

Environment

UAE’s KhalifaSat captures the moment when an enormous chunk of Greenland's ice cap broke off

The 110 square kilometres chunk accounts for around two-thirds of the mass the sheet has lost in the last 20 years

KhalifaSat has captured an image of the moment when an enormous chunk of Greenland’s ice cap broke off in the Arctic.

The 110 square kilometres glacier accounts for around two-thirds of the total mass the sheet has lost in the last 20 years, said researchers on September 17.

The broken cap is now adrift in the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream.

Scientists said the dislodgement of the 80kilometres long and 20km wide chunk is another 'alarm bell' about the effects of climate change in the polar regions.

"We should be very concerned about what appears to be progressive disintegration at the Arctic's largest remaining ice shelf," Prof Jason Box at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland said last week, when the news was announced.

The melting of ice in Greenland results in a rise in sea levels of more than a millimetre each year, making it the greatest single contributor to the process.

According to the National Snow and Ice Data Centre in the US, although the melting of glaciers and ice sheets this summer was “well above” the 1981 to 2010 average, it has been lower than the levels recorded in the past decade.

We should be very concerned about what appears to be progressive disintegration at the Arctic's largest remaining ice shelf

Prof Jason Box

It is too late to reverse the damage that has been done, say glaciologists.

Last month, scientists at Ohio State University in the US said the ice sheet has now melted to a point of no return.

"The ice sheet is now in this new dynamic state where, even if we went back to a climate that was more like what we had 20 or 30 years ago, we would still be pretty quickly losing mass," Ian Howat, co-author of a study on shrinking ice sheet in Greenland and a professor at Ohio State University, was quoted as saying by CNN.

"We've passed the point of no return but there's obviously more to come.

"Rather than being a single tipping point in which we've gone from a happy ice sheet to a rapidly collapsing ice sheet, it's more of a staircase where we've fallen off the first step but there's many more steps to go down into the pit."

At 1,710,000 square kilometres, the Greenland Ice Sheet is almost 80 per cent the size of the country.

It is the second largest in the world after the Antarctic Ice Sheet.

The oldest known ice core is in Antarctica and is estimated to be one million years old.

KhalifaSat, the first 100 per cent Emirati-built satellite, was launched by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai in 2018.

The satellite provides high-resolution images across various sectors ranging from urban planning, humanitarian and for commercial use.

Updated: September 23, 2020 03:19 PM

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