August 18, 2012 - Iceberg from Petermann Glacier, northern Greenland

Iceberg from Petermann Glacier, northern Greenland

On July 16, between 1000 and 1200 UTC, the floating ice tongue at the tip of the Petermann Glacier calved a very large iceberg in to Petermann Fiord. Measuring about 46 square miles (130 square kilometers) in size, the formidable block of ice was dubbed PII-2012. About half of the size of the Petermann ice island that calved in August 2010, this iceberg has been described as the size of Manhattan, or roughly equivalent to one quarter of the size of Montreal Island.

Since its birth, PII-2012 has been steadily drifting down Petermann Fiord, heading towards Nares Strait. On August 15, 2012, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this true-color image of the iceberg well into Nares Strait.

Environment Canada reports that by August 13 the PII-2012 fragment from the Petermann Glacier, which still measured 130 square kilometers, had entered the Nares Strait. Meanwhile, smaller fragments of the ice tongue, dubbed PII-B-a-1 and PII-B-a-2 had drifted further south and were located in Lancaster Sound. PII-B-1 had grounded along the east coast of Baffin Island. Other fragments had drifted as far south as Hudson Bay.

The Canadian Ice Service plans to attempt to drop a beacon on PII-2012 in the near future. Such beacons relay their signals through satellites to distant facilities, allowing the course of the drifting iceberg to be closely tracked.

Image Facts
Satellite: Aqua
Date Acquired: 8/15/2012
Resolutions: 1km ( B), 500m ( B), 250m ( B)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC