ESA shows movement of Petermann berg

The “deniersberg” is on the move. Chances are though it will not leave Nares strait before the refreeze occurs. Like most everything to do with Arctic ice, winds are the biggest factor.

Earth from Space: Giant iceberg enters Nares Strait

ESA’s Envisat satellite has been tracking the progression of the giant iceberg that calved from Greenland’s Petermann glacier on 4 August 2010. This animation shows that the iceberg, the largest in the northern hemisphere, is now entering Nares Strait – a stretch of water that connects the Lincoln Sea and Arctic Ocean with Baffin Bay.

Giant iceberg enters Nares Strait

The Petermann glacier in northern Greenland is one of the largest of the country’s glaciers – and until August it had a 70 km tongue of floating ice extending out into the sea. The glacier regularly advances towards the sea at about 1 km per year.

Earlier this year, satellite images revealed that several cracks had appeared. Envisat radar images showed that the ice tongue was still intact on 3 August but, on 4 August, a huge chunk had detached.

Calvings from the Petermann glacier are quite common, but one of this magnitude is rare. Less significant events took place in 2001, in 2008 when a 27 sq km iceberg made its way south to Davis Strait, and in 2009.

This iceberg is about 30 km long and 15 km wide at its foot and almost 7 km wide at its head, covering an area of around 245 sq km. By 22 August this giant mass of ice had been carried about 22 km from its birth place.

On 1 September imagery showed that the iceberg had travelled almost another 6 km from the edge of the glacier and rotated westward (about 39°), just tipping into Nares Strait. The animation also shows that the iceberg hit a small island, which may delay further progression for a short while and may also cause the iceberg to break.

It is expected that the iceberg will soon be fully in Nares Strait, but its course depends on winds blowing off the glacier and currents in the strait, as well as sea ice that could block its path.

The animation was generated from 21 Envisat Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) Wide Swath Mode (spatial resolution 150 m × 150 m) and three ASAR Image Mode (spatial resolution 30 m × 30 m) images.

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24 thoughts on “ESA shows movement of Petermann berg

  1. If it takes a good 24 hours in a warm UK kitchen in September to thaw a two liter bottle of milk from the freezer , how many days will it take for the iceberg to melt ???? And would the iceberg be at about the same temperature as a domestic food freezer ?

  2. “The glacier regularly advances towards the sea at about 1 km per year.”
    “Less significant events took place in 2001, in 2008 when a 27 sq km iceberg made its way south to Davis Strait, and in 2009.”
    So it’s overdue and normal……….
    The real question is, what conditions made it get so big in the first place.

  3. It hit an island! Awesome.
    10 minutes with Google (earth/maps/search) didn’t reveal the name of the island.
    What is the name of the island? Is there a web cam on the island or the ice cube? Is there a time lapse video of it hitting the island?

  4. Are there any ground or low fly-over views? There seems to be another crack on the North corner of the glacier and that same side develops a white edge that comes and goes. Maybe this is a camera/angle artifact. It extends along the ice-land boundary to the lower edge of the picture.
    The glacier itself seems not to have advanced any in the month since its snout broke off.
    The full screen view is here: http://www.esa.int/images/Petermann.gif

  5. A Holmes says:
    September 3, 2010 at 10:01 am
    If it takes a good 24 hours in a warm UK kitchen in September to thaw a two liter bottle of milk from the freezer , how many days will it take for the iceberg to melt ????

    A couple of years or so.

  6. Some decades earlier and Churchill could have had his big aircraft carrier. Could we push is south and irrigate the mid-east?

  7. They say it got hung up on an island. In any event, it would be a long time before it was a threat to anything at the rate of speed it was clocked at – 1/4kph.

  8. “The glacier regularly advances towards the sea at about 1 km per year.”

    Good thing there is global warming otherwise this glacier would be wrapping around the entire earth in only a few millenia! 😉

  9. Re: A. Holmes
    It all depends on how well the UK Kitchen is isolated. A few winters I stayed in a 4 star hotell in Birmingham and had to seal the balcony door with a newspaper in order not to freeze during the night. The notion of a warm UK kitchen seems like another AGW saga.

  10. Once it has gone through a freeze cycle, will the sea ice that freezes up behind it likely to go through a thaw cycle?

  11. The whole thing, including map orientation and scale, is totally misleading. This part of the Nares Straight is at 81 degrees North. Newfoundland is at 50 degrees North (towards the left in this map).
    This iceberg is 1900 nautical miles NORTH of Newfoundland.
    I suspect a Danish plot to claim Baffin Bay by virtue of this large chunk of Greenland now forming an “Island” in it.

  12. So when can someone claim ownership of this iceberg? I guess it has to be in international waters… If it is open for privatization, would planting a hundred or a thousand masts and rigging sails count as mixing one’s labor to establish ownerships? Would that be enough to move it toward some country interested in cool air and fresh water?

  13. This berg broke off because it had become an ice shelf, ie. unsupported from below, within the fiord. The size really shows how long it has been since any serious storm surge entered the fiord to break of any ice blocks. I agree with Anthony and expect it to either become stuck in the now refreezing ice pack or ground near a local island. It has yet to show any signs of melting so temperatures are still around seasonal normal.

  14. The slow, twisting path of the ice island, its grounding against the (rock) island, and its lack of fast travel is what I was speaking when I commented earlier that the island was not going to move quickly: neither through the Peterman fjord itslef, nor the Nares Strait itself to open water.
    Still, I grant the the movement rhus far is a bit quicker than I expected. Re-freezing in-place (now that 80 north latitude temperatures are continuously below freezing for the next 270 days!) is to be expected.
    Since this will block the fjord for release of smaller blocks of ice, does that begin a tipping point that will clog the fjord, stop up the glacier’s outlet completely and lead to the overflowing of the entire north Greenland ice sheet with new multi-year ice?
    /sarchasm – the gaping whole between an enviro and their future predictions. 8<)

  15. TTY>
    Thanks, it’s hard to give a compliment on the interweb without sounding all sarcastic, but that genuinely added to my WUWT experience 🙂

  16. RACookPE1978 says:
    September 4, 2010 at 8:38 am
    The slow, twisting path of the ice island, its grounding against the (rock) island, and its lack of fast travel is what I was speaking when I commented earlier that the island was not going to move quickly: neither through the Peterman fjord itslef, nor the Nares Strait itself to open water.

    Actually you attributed its predicted slowness to the imaginary winding nature of the fjord!
    Still, I grant the the movement rhus far is a bit quicker than I expected. Re-freezing in-place (now that 80 north latitude temperatures are continuously below freezing for the next 270 days!) is to be expected.
    Of the Nares strait? Congratulations on learning its name by the way, but consolidation there wouldn’t be expected until february.
    http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/goes/blog/archives/2028
    Since this will block the fjord for release of smaller blocks of ice, does that begin a tipping point that will clog the fjord, stop up the glacier’s outlet completely and lead to the overflowing of the entire north Greenland ice sheet with new multi-year ice?
    Actually it’s broken into two (as predicted by Patrick Lockerby) and will doubtless continue it’s passage down Nares strait.

  17. A picture (or radar image) from October 12, 2010 shows the location of the Petermann Ice Islands A, B, C, D, just above Coburg Island and several pieces that don’t have a letter.
    http://www.ec.gc.ca/glaces-ice/default.asp?lang=En&n=D32C361E-1&wsdoc=B75BC3BC-8FD3-45D2-AA65-FDF066FB0231
    Per Canadian Ice Service:
    “October 18, 2010 – – On October 8, 2010, the PII-A and PII-B almost re-united off the southeastern tip of Ellesmere island. Shortly after, PII-B broke into 3 pieces with many smaller pieces nearby the “parent” icebergs. Two small pieces found their way 140 km further south and lay almost due east of Devon Island. ”
    http://www.ec.gc.ca/glaces-ice/default.asp?lang=En&n=5C140C5D-1&wsdoc=082CD667-6A9B-4205-AE25-A12B00D4E32B

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