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Massive Chunk of Greenland Glacier Breaks Off July 16, 2010
Satellite Image of BP Gulf spill disaster
The steady retreat of Greenland's Jakobshavn Isbrae glacier can be seen in this NASA image.
A massive chunk of Greenland’s Jakobshavn Isbrae glacier broke off into the sea earlier this month, startling scientists who detected the event within hours thanks to satellite images.

The breakup of nearly 3 square miles of ice caused the glacier to retreat inland nearly 1 mile between July 6 and 7, to a point farther from the sea than ever before observed.

Jakobshavn Isbrae is responsible for as much as 10 percent of all ice lost from Greenland, and is believed to be the single largest contributor to sea level rise in the Northern Hemisphere, according to NASA.

The sudden breakup “lends credence to the theory that warming of the oceans is responsible for the ice loss observed throughout Greenland and Antarctica," said Thomas Wagner, a NASA cryospheric scientist.

Wagner said the event is unusual “because it occurs on the heels of a warm winter that saw no sea ice form in the surrounding bay."

The glacier is located on Greenland’s west coast and has moved more than 27 miles since 1850. It’s moved almost six miles over the past decade.

Photo: NASA