Just how large is an actual gigaton?

The title of Pearl Jam's upcoming record is named after an enormous unit of measurement — a billion metric tons — used to track instances of climate change like melting glaciers. To provide context, NASA's Global Climate Change division uploaded an alarming graphic to its Instagram account that shows a 1,119-foot tall block of solid ice as big a New York’s Central Park.

"Satellite data show that Antartica and Greenland are losing hundreds of gigatonnes of (land-based) ice each year," the caption reads. "But how big is just one gigatonne? ... One gigatonne of ice in the context of New York City's Central Park."

On their website, NASA reveals that polar ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica have lost more than 5,600 gigaton of ice between 2002 and 2017, and 49,000 since the start of the 20th century. That, according to another graphic, is enough to cover the continental U.S. with 22 feet of ice.

Pearl Jam’s record features a photo of the melting Norwegian Nordaustlandet ice cap taken taken by Canadian photographer and marine biologist Paul Nicklen. Many of Gigaton’s lyrics feature environmental themes, and the booklet included in the compact disc includes images of wildfires, eruptions, storms, a factory belching smoke and melting ice caps, some of which were sourced from NASA.In addition,  SeaLegacy, the organization dedicated to “turning the tide for our oceans” co-founded by Nicklen, is listed on the album’s credit page.

Gigaton, Pearl Jam’s 11th studio album, arrives March 27.


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