The glacier that killed the Titanic is firing icebergs faster than ever

Greenland's Jakobshavn Glacier is firing icebergs into the Atlantic Ocean faster than ever, at an unprecedented rate in fact, according to researchers. Worse: it seems to be accelerating. Maybe the glacier that killed the Titanic with one of its icebergs is blood thirsty again.

Above: the iceberg that actually sunk the Titanic, which according to scientists was most probably a piece of the Jakobshavn Glacier.

According to a research paper by scientists from the University of Washington and the German Aerospace Center using "high spatial and temporal resolution data acquired by the German radar satellites TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X," the speed the Jakobshavn Glacier is now increasing dramatically:

Analysis of the data shows that the annual average of the flow rates for Jakobshavn Isbræ in 2012 and 2013 is almost three times greater than 20 years ago. During the summer period, the flow rates are over four times higher. The maximum speed measured by the scientists in the summer of 2012 was 17 kilometres per year; this is more than 46 metres per day.

The glacier that killed the Titanic is firing icebergs faster than ever

A three-dimensional view of the Jakobshavn Glacier created by the German Space Agency.

Remote Sensing Technology Institute researcher and paper co-author Dana Floricioiu—who has been studying the glacier since mid-2008—says that they are very impressed by this speed up. University of Washington's Polar Science Center researcher and lead author Ian Joughin says that "these flow rates are unprecedented: they appear to be the fastest ever recorded for any glacier or ice stream in Greenland or Antarctica." [my emphasis]

The bad news is not only the increased iceberg traffic in the Atlantic Ocean but the volume of water that is adding to the ocean from the Greenland ice sheet: "The volume of Jakobshavn Isbræ entering the ocean is already so considerable that it is affecting sea levels, causing a rise of about one millimeter between 2000 and 2010. In the future, the glacier will cause sea levels to rise even further." In other words: Good bye, Holland! See you, New York! Good riddance, Florida!


SPLOID is a new blog about awesome stuff. Join us on Facebook