Largest glacier calving event ever filmed
Last updated: February 13, 2018 at 15:50 pm
The largest glacier calving event ever recorded took place on May 28, 2008, while Adam LeWinter and Director Jeff Orlowski were filming the Ilulissat Glacier, in Western Greenland, for the documentary film Chasing Ice. The calving event lasted 75 minutes and the glacier retreated 1.6 km (1 mile) across a calving face 5 km (3 miles) wide. The total height of the ice was about 915 m (3,000 feet), of which 90-120 m (300-400 feet) was visible above water, while the rest was underwater. As a tidewater glacier slowly slides toward the ocean, large pieces calve (break off) to form icebergs. Most tidewater glaciers calve above the surface resulting in a thunderous crash of ice into the ocean. Some tidewater glaciers calve underwater thus causing the iceberg to surge up to the surface from below. Water displaced during calving often produces huge waves or a local tsunami.
“It’s as if the entire lower tip of Manhattan broke off, except that the thickness, the height of it, is equivalent to buildings that are two and a half or three times higher.” — James Balog | Chasing Ice
EDITOR’S NOTE: The diver in the image below was photographed beside a growler, which is a fragment of ice roughly the size of a truck. The piece was originally part of an iceberg that was formed after a section of the Ilulissat Glacier calved into Disko Bay. Diving anywhere near a tidewater glacier is extremely dangerous and should never be attempted.
National Snow and Ice Data Center
UNESCO/IOC-NOAA | International Tsunami Information Center
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Jeffrey Gallant is the Editor-in-Chief and Records Keeper of the Diving Almanac. He is also a contributing editor of DIVER Magazine, and the scientific director of the Greenland Shark and Elasmobranch Education and Research Group (GEERG). Jeffrey started diving in 1982.