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Petermann Ice Island
Petermann Glacier Calving Activities
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
July 14, 2008
Petermann glacier front is unremarkable
July 15, 2008
Initial piece of roughly 27 km2 brakes
off from the western front.
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.
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:
Main Ice Island and debris emanating from it.
Coast Guard ship circumnavigating the ice island.
Interesting color pattern from nearby icebergs calving from the main ice island; the striped pattern is caused by re-freezing of melt water layers.
Nearby iceberg showing the horizontal bands (flipped on its side) of re-frozen layers over many years.
Petermann Ice Island on March 1, 2009.
Petermann Ice Island on 29 May, 2009.
Petermann Ice Island on 19 June, 2009.
Fast ice breaking off Petermann Glacier on June 22, 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.
- Date Modified: