COPENHAGEN: A massive chunk of ice — larger than the city of Paris — has broken off from the Arctic’s largest ice shelf because of warmer temperatures in Greenland, scientists said on Monday.

The 113-square-kilometre (43-square-mile) block broke off the Nioghalvfjerdsf jorden glacier in Northeast Greenland, which the scientists said had been expected given the rising average temperatures.

“We’re observing increasing speed on this largest remaining ice shelf,” Jason Box, professor of glaciology at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), said. GEUS also published satellite images showing the portions of the glacier that had broken off. While it is normal for pieces of ice to break off from a glacier — a process called calving — they are generally not this large.

According to GEUS, since 1999, the glacier has lost 160 square kilometres of ice, an area twice the size of Manhattan, with the loss rate accelerating in the past two years.

“If we see more warm summers like we observed the last two years, it will be contributing more to the accelerating global sea level rise,” Box said.

The melting of Greenland’s ice sheet contributed to a sea level rise of 1.1 centimetres between 1992 and 2018, according to a study published in the science journal Nature in December.

Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2020