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Giant iceberg may pose threat to shipping

By Jeremy van Loon
Bloomberg News / August 12, 2010

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LONDON — A chunk of ice four times the size of Manhattan broke away from Greenland and may drift toward shipping lanes in the North Atlantic and off the Canadian coast, researchers said.

The 100-square-mile ice island, with enough stored water to keep the Hudson River flowing for more than two years, split off from the Petermann Glacier last week, according to Andreas Muenchow, an associate professor of ocean science and engineering at the University of Delaware.

The ice is the largest to detach from an Arctic glacier since 1962 and follows the six warmest months on record. Glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica are melting faster than predicted, accelerating their march to the sea and adding to the rising ocean levels that threaten coastal communities worldwide, according to many scientific studies.

“So far, 2010 has been the hottest year on record, and scientists agree Arctic ice is a canary in a coal mine that provides clear warnings on climate,’’ US Representative Edward Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts and chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, said on the panel’s website.

The ice island has been drifting in the sea lane between Canada and Greenland since Aug. 5, Muenchow said on the university’s website.

It may block the channel, break into smaller pieces, or hit land, he added.

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