In early August, the Petermann glacier produced an enormous iceberg that moved slowly toward the Nares Strait. On September 9, 2010, Canada's RADARSAT-2 obtained a radar image shortly after the huge iceberg was passing a small rocky island to enter the Nares Strait (fig. 1).
On September 11, a new image (fig. 2) shows that the situation changed rather drastically as the currents and the pressure of the ice floes have broken the main iceberg. A 13 km long fragment is now floating away in the Nares Strait. On the image, the fragment is located just left of Hans Island. As for the main iceberg, it is still stuck on the small rocky island at the outlet of the Petermann fjord.
A third image acquired by RADARSAT-2 on September 13 (fig. 3) shows that the smaller fragment floated more than 100 km to the South-West and it is now entering the Kane Basin. Between September 11th and 13th, the average speed is evaluated at 1.9 km/h. As for the larger iceberg, it is still stuck by the small rocky island at the outpour of the Petermann fjord but it has rotated and is about to enter the Nares Strait.
RADARSAT-2 Data and Products © MacDONALD, DETTWILER AND ASSOCIATES LTD (2010) – All Rights Reserved. RADARSAT is an official mark of the Canadian Space Agency.
On August 4, 2010, the forecasters of the Canadian Ice Service of Environment Canada noted that an enormous chunk of ice was pulling-off from the Petermann glacier located in northern Greenland. This iceberg with an area of more than 250 km2 would be the largest one created in the last 50 years.
This animation shows the evolution of the phenomenon as the glacier is about to leave the Petermann fjord to enter the Nares strait. At this point, this iceberg does not represent an immediate threat but depending on its future trajectory, it may become dangerous for maritime navigation and for oil exploration platforms in the coming months and even years.
These RADARSAT-2 images were acquired in ScanSAR Wide mode on July 31, 2010 (a few days before the calving) and on August 7, 14 and 17, 2010. The Canadian Ice Service analysts use these RADARSAT images on a daily basis to monitor the ice flows in Canadian waters.