Dramatic Videos Capture the Moment a Massive Iceberg Breaks Away From a Glacier

Evidence illustrating the effects of global warming on glaciers, ice caps and the ocean is mounting, and multiple videos of breaking ice sheets show just how rapidly these changes are occurring.

Scientists from New York University captured breathtaking video of a 4-mile-long iceberg breaking off Helheim Glacier in eastern Greenland.

While captivating, the researchers see the video as an alarming look at global sea-level rise.

"Global sea-level rise is both undeniable and consequential," said David Holland, lead researcher on the project and an NYU professor. "By capturing how it unfolds, we can see, first-hand, its breathtaking significance."

The video shows calving, or large blocks of ice breaking off from a glacier. The event began on June 22 around 11:30 p.m. and lasted a mere 30 minutes.

The researchers believe the iceberg that broke off would stretch from lower Manhattan to Midtown in New York City.

"The better we understand what's going on means we can create more accurate simulations to help predict and plan for climate change," said Denise Holland, the logistics coordinator for NYU's Environmental Fluid Dynamics Laboratory and NYU Abu Dhabi's Center for Global Sea Level Change. She filmed the calving event.

A drone video of the same occurrence surfaced from photographer Lucas Jackson from Reuters. It shows a wider view of the 10 billion ton piece of ice breaking from the glacier and falling into the ocean.

Jackson followed the NYU scientists in Greenland as they studied how warmer ocean temperatures are undermining ice sheets, causing melting and cracking.

"It's just amazing how beautiful nature is, how violent and unstoppable; it just does its own thing," David Holland told Jackson. "We actually saw the process by which sea level rises from glaciers."

These scientists are doing dangerous field work in one of the world's harshest terrains. The conditions make gathering data and generating prediction models difficult, especially as the frozen environment undergoes rapid change.

At the same time, NASA is also studying Greenland's glaciers and sea levels through a $30 million project called Oceans Melting Greenland. Both teams of scientists are using the latest sonar, tagging, satellite tracking and measurement technologies to learn more about the issue before it's too late.

All their work is crucial to our understanding of sea level rise. A study from June 2018 showed as many as 311,000 coastal homes across the lower 48 states will be vulnerable to "chronic" flooding unleashed by climate change-driven sea level rise within the next 30 years.