A huge chunk of glacier ice the size of four Manhattans has split in two off the coast of western Greenland. After battering against the rocks lining Joe Island (situated along the Nares Strait) all last week, the massive block of ice weakened and has now been cleaved into two separate chunks, both with surface areas equal to the size of two Manhattan islands. The ice itself was weakened via ocean currents and strong winds, the pressure being exerted by the rock outcrops and ocean pulls proving to be too much for the ice to withstand. Being reported as the biggest glacial break-off in over 140 years, the 236-square kilometer block has caused uproar and a great stir in the geologic/environmental worlds. The pieces are being monitored on an hour-by-hour basis ever since the initial split occurred, and researchers for the project expect the parts to materialize in the Canadian providence of Newfoundland and Labrador some two to three years down the road. While the floating island is at the forefront of the general public’s attention, geologists are far more interested in the effects the departure will have on the glacier left behind. According to lead researcher Andreas Muenchow, the balance of forces in the remnant glacier will start moving more quickly due to the sudden need to reestablish equilibrium. The Peterman Glacier has been observed to move forward and backwards in 20-30 year cycles, although geologists have yet to determine how much of these movement can be attributed to global warming and how much is simply part of the glacial cycle. According to Muenchow, “”Ice that is floating that is in contact with the ocean. If you melt that from below, faster, then it’s getting thinner. As it’s getting thinner it keeps flowing faster so it’s using more mass, and that mass is being replaced by ice that’s sitting on Greenland, that’s sitting on land. That’s where the main worry is, that you get an accelerated rate of upstream ice that’s sitting on land out into the ocean.” (www.cnn.com) In other words, what’s scary is that Greenland has been losing mass for the past twenty or so years, thinning out the span of the country and causing a rise in both water levels and temperatures, the first due to the periodic melting and the second resulting from a combination of global warming and other processes. Although far from eminently catastrophic, the splitting of the Petermann Glacier serves as a vivid proof to the change that our environment is undergoing and, for the sake of all, geologist involved particularly in this field are making it a top priority to raise public and governmental awareness to secure a factual, impactful representation of the changes taking place.