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Petermann Ice Island

Petermann Glacier Calving Activities

Ice Island Animation of the Petermann Ice Island from 13 September 2008 to 25 September 2008.

Ice Island Animation of the Petermann Ice Island from 13 September 2008 to 25 September 2008.

Map of Petermann Glacier

Map of Petermann Glacier

Petermann Glacier had major calving events in both 2001 and 2008. In 2001, the glacier calved approximately 86 km2 off its ice front. On July 15, 2008, a 27 km2 ice island broke off from the Petermann Glacier near the northeastern tip Ellesmere Island.

Physical characteristics of the ice island are as follows:

  • Length: 8.78 km (4.739 miles)
  • Width: 4.24 km (2.286 miles)
  • Freeboard Height: 0-6 metres
  • Estimated Mass: 1-2 Giga Tonnes

On September 15, 2008, Canadian researchers had placed a Canadian Ice Service beacon on the island. The researchers, with an academic team from the research network ArcticNet, were aboard the Canadian Coast Guard vessel Amundsen at the time.

As of March 23, 2009, the ice island had lost approximately 250 million tons or about 25% of its originally estimated mass. At approximately 21 km2, it was slightly smaller than the Greater Toronto Area. In the previous 37 days, the island had travelled about 325 nautical miles.

2008 Calving Timeline

Image of the Petermann glacier front taken on July 14, 2008.
July 14, 2008
Petermann glacier front is unremarkable
Image of the Petermann glacier front taken on July 15, 2008.
July 15, 2008
Initial piece of roughly 27 km2 brakes
off from the western front.

Image of the Petermann glacier front taken on July 16, 2008.
July 16, 2008
A second piece of roughly 3.6 km2
calves off the eastern front possibly
caused by the impact shock of the first
piece with the main glacier front.

 

Image of the Petermann glacier front taken on August 9, 2008.
August 9, 2008
Both pieces have left the fjord and
are drifting in Nares Strait.
The larger ice island has already lost
part of its initial area and is now 22 km2.

 


Photos taken by Dr. Martin Fortier (University of Laval) on September 15, 2008 while deploying beacons on the ice island:

Photo of the main ice island and debris emanating from it.
Main Ice Island and debris emanating from it.

Photo of a Coast Guard ship circumnavigating the ice island
Coast Guard ship circumnavigating the ice island.

Photo of interesting color pattern from nearby icebergs calving from the main ice island; the striped pattern is caused by re-freezing of melt water layers.
Interesting color pattern from nearby icebergs calving from the main ice island; the striped pattern is caused by re-freezing of melt water layers.

Photo of nearby iceberg showing the horizontal bands (flipped on its side) of re-frozen layers over many years.
Nearby iceberg showing the horizontal bands (flipped on its side) of re-frozen layers over many years.

Image of Petermann Ice Island on March 1, 2009.
Petermann Ice Island on March 1, 2009.

Image of Petermann Ice Island on 29 May, 2009
Petermann Ice Island on 29 May, 2009.

Image of Petermann Ice Island on 19 June, 2009.
Petermann Ice Island on 19 June, 2009.

Image of fast ice breaking off Petermann Glacier on June 22, 2009.
Fast ice breaking off Petermann Glacier on June 22, 2009.

Image of Petermann Ice Island fragments on July 2, 2009.
Petermann Ice Island fragments on July 2, 2009.

Fast ice, which developed in front of the Petermann Glacier during the winter of 2008-2009, is now breaking away from the glacier front, exposing the glacier to wave action. This wave action may possibly contribute toward the formation of new ice islands in the summer of 2009. The fast ice is composed primarily of consolidated, thick multi-year ice floes and could eventually present a hazard to shipping in Nares Strait.