World's fastest glacier may have lost the largest chunk of ice ever recorded

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World's Fastest Glacier May Have Lost The Largest Chunk Of Ice Ever Recorded
A glacier in Greenland just lost a huge chunk of ice. Maybe the biggest ever.

The Jakobshavn Glacier is said to be one of the fastest in the world and has been recorded moving around 150 feet per day in the past. And, earlier this month, it lost a nearly five square mile mass of ice in the course of seven days, according to satellite imagery.

NASA released before-and-after photos of the ice loss, which in the vernacular of iceberg studies, is referred to as "calving."

For context, the amount of ice lost by Jakobshavn would cover all of Manhattan in ice nearly 1,000 feet thick.

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Jakobshavn Glacier
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World's fastest glacier may have lost the largest chunk of ice ever recorded

July 2015

Photo via NASA

August 2015

Photo via NASA

DENMARK - MAY 05: Iceberg detached from Jakobshavn (Sermeq Kujalleq) glacier, Ilulissat village, Qaasuitsup, west Greenland, Denmark. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)
DENMARK - MAY 05: Effect of light on an iceberg detached from Jakobshavn (Sermeq Kujalleq) glacier, Ilulissat village, Qaasuitsup, west Greenland, Denmark. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)
In this July 19, 2011 photo, a cloud drifts past the ever-collapsing calving 6-kilometer-wide (4-mile-wide) front of Jakobshavn Glacier, situated at the edge of the vast Greenland ice sheet, near Ilulissat, Greenland. Greenland is the focus of many researchers trying to determine how much its melting ice may raise sea levels. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
DENMARK - MAY 05: A small boat near the iceberg detached from Jakobshavn (Sermeq Kujalleq) glacier, Ilulissat village, Qaasuitsup, west Greenland, Denmark. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)
ILULISSAT, GREENLAND - JULY 23: A full moon is seen over an iceberg that broke off from the Jakobshavn Glacier on July 23, 2013 in Ilulissat, Greenland. As the sea levels around the globe rise, researchers affilitated with the National Science Foundation and other organizations are studying the phenomena of the melting glaciers and its long-term ramifications. The warmer temperatures that have had an effect on the glaciers in Greenland also have altered the ways in which the local populace farm, fish, hunt and even travel across land. In recent years, sea level rise in places such as Miami Beach has led to increased street flooding and prompted leaders such as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to propose a $19.5 billion plan to boost the citys capacity to withstand future extreme weather events by, among other things, devising mechanisms to withstand flooding. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
GREENLAND - CIRCA 1900: Kangia (Ilulissat Ice fjord) in Greenland - The Ilulissat Ice fjord (Ilulissat Kangerlua or Kangia) runs west 40 km (25 mi) from the Greenland ice sheet to Disko Bay close to Ilulissat town. At its eastern end is the Jakobshavn Isbre glacier, the most productive glacier in the Northern Hemisphere. The glacier flows at a rate of 20,35 m (66,110 ft.) per day, resulting in around 20 billion tons of icebergs calved off and passing out of the fjord every year. Icebergs breaking from the glacier are often so large (up to a kilometer (3,300 ft.) in height) that they are too tall to float down the fjord and lie stuck on the bottom of its shallower areas, sometimes for years, until they are broken up by the force of the glacier and icebergs further up the fjord. On breaking up the icebergs emerge into the open sea and initially travel north with ocean currents before turning south and running into the Atlantic Ocean. Larger icebergs typically do not melt until they reach 40-45 degrees north (further south than the United Kingdom and level with New York City). The Ilulissat Icefjord was declared a UNESCO. It’s a privileged site for the observation of the thaw of glacier and the global warming. The many glaciologists and climatologists observe it attentively. (Photo by Veronique DURRUTY/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
ILULISSAT, GREENLAND - JULY 23: Ships are seen among the icebergs that broke off from the Jakobshavn Glacier as the sun reaches its lowest point of the day on July 23, 2013 in Ilulissat, Greenland. As the sea levels around the globe rise, researchers affilitated with the National Science Foundation and other organizations are studying the phenomena of the melting glaciers and its long-term ramifications. The warmer temperatures that have had an effect on the glaciers in Greenland also have altered the ways in which the local populace farm, fish, hunt and even travel across land. In recent years, sea level rise in places such as Miami Beach has led to increased street flooding and prompted leaders such as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to propose a $19.5 billion plan to boost the citys capacity to withstand future extreme weather events by, among other things, devising mechanisms to withstand flooding. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
ILULISSAT, GREENLAND - JULY 23: A full moon is seen over an iceberg that broke off from the Jakobshavn Glacier on July 23, 2013 in Ilulissat, Greenland. As the sea levels around the globe rise, researchers affilitated with the National Science Foundation and other organizations are studying the phenomena of the melting glaciers and its long-term ramifications. The warmer temperatures that have had an effect on the glaciers in Greenland also have altered the ways in which the local populace farm, fish, hunt and even travel across land. In recent years, sea level rise in places such as Miami Beach has led to increased street flooding and prompted leaders such as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to propose a $19.5 billion plan to boost the citys capacity to withstand future extreme weather events by, among other things, devising mechanisms to withstand flooding. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
ILULISSAT, GREENLAND - JULY 21: An iceberg that broke off from the Jakobshavn Glacier floats through the water on July 21, 2013 in Ilulissat, Greenland. As the sea levels around the globe rise, researchers affilitated with the National Science Foundation and other organizations are studying the phenomena of the melting glaciers and its long-term ramifications. The warmer temperatures that have had an effect on the glaciers in Greenland also have altered the ways in which the local populace farm, fish, hunt and even travel across land. In recent years, sea level rise in places such as Miami Beach has led to increased street flooding and prompted leaders such as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to propose a $19.5 billion plan to boost the citys capacity to withstand future extreme weather events by, among other things, devising mechanisms to withstand flooding. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
ILULISSAT, GREENLAND - JULY 17: A sled dog is seen as icebergs that broke off from the Jakobshavn Glacier are seen in the water on July 17, 2013 in Ilulissat, Greenland. As the sea levels around the globe rise, researchers affilitated with the National Science Foundation and other organizations are studying the phenomena of the melting glaciers and its long-term ramifications. The warmer temperatures that have had an effect on the glaciers in Greenland also have altered the ways in which the local populace farm, fish, hunt and even travel across land. In recent years, sea level rise in places such as Miami Beach has led to increased street flooding and prompted leaders such as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to propose a $19.5 billion plan to boost the citys capacity to withstand future extreme weather events by, among other things, devising mechanisms to withstand flooding. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
GREENLAND - CIRCA 1900: Kangia (Ilulissat Ice fjord) in Greenland - The Ilulissat Ice fjord (Ilulissat Kangerlua or Kangia) runs west 40 km (25 mi) from the Greenland ice sheet to Disko Bay close to Ilulissat town. At its eastern end is the Jakobshavn Isbre glacier, the most productive glacier in the Northern Hemisphere. The glacier flows at a rate of 20,35 m (66,110 ft.) per day, resulting in around 20 billion tons of icebergs calved off and passing out of the fjord every year. Icebergs breaking from the glacier are often so large (up to a kilometer (3,300 ft.) in height) that they are too tall to float down the fjord and lie stuck on the bottom of its shallower areas, sometimes for years, until they are broken up by the force of the glacier and icebergs further up the fjord. On breaking up the icebergs emerge into the open sea and initially travel north with ocean currents before turning south and running into the Atlantic Ocean. Larger icebergs typically do not melt until they reach 40-45 degrees north (further south than the United Kingdom and level with New York City). The Ilulissat Icefjord was declared a UNESCO. It’s a privileged site for the observation of the thaw of glacier and the global warming. The many glaciologists and climatologists observe it attentively. (Photo by Veronique DURRUTY/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
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If the ice broke off in one fell swoop, then it would likely be the largest calving event to have ever occurred on a glacier. Because Greenland is not fully monitored, however, it's difficult to tell if the ice loss actually happened all at once or rather via several smaller calving events.

The glacier drains a substantial amount of ice from the Greenland ice sheet, and around 10% of its icebergs are produced by it.

It's widely believed the Titanic was done in by an iceberg originating from Jakobshavn.
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