Greenland Glacier Rift Could Worsen Rising Sea Levels

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NASA scientists have captured photos of a new rift in one of Greenland's largest glaciers.

Researchers at NASA's Operation IceBridge are photographing shrinking Arctic and Antarctic ice to study the effect of climate change on the planet's polar regions.

nasa operation icebridge
Researchers captured a photo of the new rift on Petermann Glacier’s ice shelf on Friday. (Photo: Gary Hoffmann via NASA Operation Icebridge/Facebook)

On Friday, the team flew over Petermann Glacier to capture "a possible new rift" in the ice sheet, according to a Facebook post.

What the scientists found was concerning. A new crack had formed within sight of a much older rift, possibly putting the ice sheet in danger of breaking.

petermann glacier rifts

The new rift is not far from a much older (and larger) crack. (Photo: Kelly Brunt via NASA Operation Icebridge/Facebook)

Since 2010, the Petermann Glacier has lost two massive icebergs as big as 120 square kilometres. A 2015 study from the University of Delaware found that the glacier, which is the second largest in the northern hemisphere, is at risk of melting as the ocean warms.

If the entire Greenland Ice Sheet melted, global sea levels would rise by six metres, which could put many coastal communities under water, according to the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Centre.

In March, Operation IceBridge reported that Arctic sea ice had reached its lowest level in recorded history.

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