In Greenland, a glacier’s collapse shows climate impact

This article discusses what a team of NASA scientists learned when they traveled to Greenland to understand how warming oceans are melting the island’s ice from below.

Perched on a cliff above Greenland’s Helheim glacier, I tried calling my wife in New York on a satellite phone. Before I could leave a message, an explosion broke the arctic silence.

More explosions followed.

I ran across a muddy tundra to a video camera on a tripod overlooking the glacier and ripped off the trash bag I had used to protect it. I hit record as fast as I could focus.

The popping sounds morphed into a low rumble. Over the next half hour, the ice broke apart and a four-mile wide chunk tumbled into the sea in a process called calving – one rarely witnessed on this scale.

As a Reuters photographer, I have captured erupting volcanoes, the aftermath of hurricanes and tornadoes, and war, but I have never felt so small. It was a poignant end to a months-long project examining climate change in Greenland.

The idea was to follow scientists conducting climate research. They have had the computational power to understand global warming for only a few decades, and the numbers are sobering. But where does the data come from?

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