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Massive ice island drifts toward Canada

July 23, 2011 1 comment

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A Manhattan-sized chunk of ice that broke off a glacier in Greenland nearly a year ago is drifting toward the coast of Newfoundland, Canada — providing a stunning sight to scientists and curiosity-seekers but also posing a potential threat to ships.

The ice island is 20 square miles — roughly 6.2 miles long and 3.1 miles wide. It was formed when a 97-square-mile chunk of ice broke off Greenland’s Petermann Glacier on Aug. 5, 2010, possibly due to warming of the Atlantic Ocean.

The ice island, the largest single chunk remaining from the massive parent chunk, has been winding its way through Arctic waters ever since.

In the past few days, it has been moving south at a rate of 5 to 6 miles per hour. On Thursday, it was about 11.5 miles off the Labrador coast, drifting toward Newfoundland, said Lionel Hache, senior ice forecaster with Canadian Ice Service in Ottawa. The Ice Service, a department of Environment Canada, has been tracking the movement of the ice island.

Hache said it was hard to project what course the ice island would take because it was following the water current. “The general direction is south but not in a straight line,” he said. “You have different branches of the current. One of the branches could bring it toward shore, other Read more…