Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 29 Issue 02

View Issue TOC
Volume 29, No. 2
Pages 254 - 263

Journey of an Arctic Ice Island

Anna J. Crawford Peter Wadhams Till J.W. WagnerAlon Stern E. Povl AbrahamsenIan ChurchRichard BatesKeith W. Nicholls
Article Abstract

In August 2010, a 253 km2 ice island calved from the floating glacial tongue of Petermann Glacier in Northwest Greenland. Petermann Ice Island (PII)-B, a large fragment of this original ice island, is the most intensively observed ice island in recent decades. We chronicle PII-B’s deterioration over four years while it drifted more than 2,400 km south along Canada’s eastern Arctic coast, investigate the ice island’s interactions with surrounding ocean waters, and report on its substantial seafloor scour. Three-dimensional sidewall scans of PII-B taken while it was grounded 130 km southeast of Clyde River, Nunavut, show that prolonged wave erosion at the waterline during sea ice-free conditions created a large underwater protrusion. The resulting buoyancy forces caused a 100 m × 1 km calving event, which was recorded by two GPS units. A field team observed surface waters to be warmer and fresher on the side of PII-B where the calving occurred, which perhaps led to the accelerated growth of the protrusion. PII-B produced up to 3.8 gigatonnes (3.8 × 1012 kg) of ice fragments, known hazards to the shipping and resource extraction industries, monitored over 22 months. Ice island seafloor scour, such as a 850 m long, 3 m deep trench at PII-B’s grounding location, also puts subseafloor installations (e.g., pipelines) at risk. This long-term and interdisciplinary assessment of PII-B is the first such study in the eastern Canadian Arctic and captures the multiple implications and risks that ice islands impose on the natural environment and offshore industries. 

Citation

Crawford, A.J., P. Wadhams, T.J.W. Wagner, A. Stern, E.P. Abrahamsen, I. Church, R. Bates, and K.W. Nicholls. 2016. Journey of an Arctic ice island. Oceanography 29(2):254–263, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2016.30.

References

Adcroft, A., R. Hallberg, J.P. Dunne, B.L. Samuels, J.A. Galt, C.H. Barker, and D. Payton. 2010. Simulations of underwater plumes of dissolved oil in the Gulf of Mexico. Geophysical Research Letters 37, L18605, https://doi.org/​10.1029/2010GL044689.

Bigg, G.R., M.R. Wadley, D.P. Stevens, and J.A. Johnson. 1996. Prediction of iceberg trajectories in the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. Geophysical Research Letters 23:3,587–3,590, https://doi.org/10.1029/96GL03369

Bigg, G.R., M.R. Wadley, D.P. Stevens, and J.A. Johnson. 1997. Modelling the dynamics and thermodynamics of icebergs. Cold Regions Science and Technology 26:113–135, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0165-232X(97)00012-8

British Broadcasting Corporation. 2016. BBC2: Operation Iceberg home page, http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00tvcnx.

CI2D3 (Canadian Ice Island Drift and Deterioration Database). 2016. Canadian Ice Island Drift and Deterioration Database Final Report. Prepared by the Water and Ice Research Lab for the Canadian Ice Service, Environment Canada, 13 pp. 

Copland, L., D.R. Mueller, and L. Weir. 2007. Rapid loss of the Ayles Ice Shelf, Ellesmere Island, Canada. Geophysical Research Letters 34, L21501, https://doi.org/10.1029/2007GL031809.

Crary, A.P. 1958. Arctic ice island and ice shelf studies: Part 1. Arctic 11(1):1–68.

Crawford, A., D.R. Mueller, E.R. Humphreys, T. Carrieres, and H. Tran. 2015. Surface ablation model evaluation on a drifting ice island in the Canadian Arctic. Cold Regions Science and Technology 110:170–182, https://doi.org/10.1016/​j.coldregions.2014.11.011

Crocker, G., J. English, R. McKenna, and R. Gagnon. 2004. Evaluation of bergy bit populations on the Grand Banks. Cold Regions Science and Technology 38:239–250, https://doi.org/10.1016/​j.coldregions.2003.12.001

Dee, D.P., S.M. Uppala, A.J. Simmons, P. Berrisford, P. Poli, S. Kobayashi, U. Andrae, M.A. Balmaseda, G. Balsamo, P. Bauer, and others. 2011. The ERA-Interim reanalysis: configuration and performance of the data assimilation system. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society 137:553–597, https://doi.org/10.1002/qj.828.

Dowdeswell, J.A., R.J., Whittington, and R. Hodgkins. 1992. The sizes, frequencies, and freeboards of East Greenland icebergs observed using ship radar and sextant. Journal of Geophysical Research 97(C3):3,515–3,528, https://doi.org/​10.1029/91JC02821

Elosegui, P., J. Wilkinson, M. Olsson, S. Rodwell, A. James, B. Hagan, B. Hwang, R. Forsberg, R. Gerdes, J. Johannessen, and others. 2012. High-precision GPS autonomous platforms for sea ice dynamics and physical oceanography. Abstract C13E-066 presented at 2012 Fakk Meeting, American Geophysical Union, San Francisco, CA, December 3–7. 

Enderlin, E.M., and G.S. Hamilton. 2014. Estimates of iceberg submarine melting from high-​resolution digital elevation models: Application to Sermilik Fjord, East Greenland. Journal of Glaciology 60(224):1,084–1,092, https://doi.org/​10.3189/2014JoG14J085.

Environment Canada. 2012. Petermann Glacier Ice Island 2012, http://www.ec.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=592AB94B-1&news=63B51150-B0B0-438F-94CA-A1CDDFA86A25

Fissel, D.B., D.D. Lemmon, and J.R. Birch. 1982. Major features of the summer near-surface circulation of western Baffin Bay, 1978–1979. Arctic 35(1):180–200. 

Fuglem, M., I. Jordaan, G. Crocker, G. Cammaert, and B. Berry. 1996. Environmental factors in iceberg collision risks for floating systems. Cold Regions Science and Technology 24(3):251–261, https://doi.org/10.1016/0165-232X(95)00013-2.

Fuglem, M., and I. Jordaan. In press. Risk analysis and hazards of ice islands. In Arctic Ice Shelves and Ice Islands. L. Copland and D. Mueller, eds, Springer, New York, NY.

Ghilani, C.D. 2000. Demystifying area uncertainty: More or less. Surveying and Land Information Systems 60:177–182.

Griffies, S.M., A. Biastoch, C. Böning, F. Bryan, G. Danabasoglu, E.P. Chassignet, M.H. England, R. Gerdes, H. Haak, R. W. Hallberg, and others. 2009. Coordinated Ocean ice Reference Experiments (COREs). Ocean Modelling 26(1–2):1–46, https://doi.org/10.1016/​j.ocemod.2008.08.007.

Halliday, E.J., T. King, P. Bobby, L. Copland, and D. Mueller. 2012. Petermann Ice Island ‘A’ survey results, offshore Labrador. Proceedings of the Arctic Technology Conference, December 3–5, 2012, Houston, TX, OTC 23714.

Hamilton, A.K., A.L. Forrest, A. Crawford, V. Schmidt, B.E. Laval, D.R. Mueller, S. Brucker, and T. Hamilton. 2013. Project ICEBERGS Final Report. Report prepared for the Canadian Ice Service, Environment Canada, 36 pp.

Haran, T., J. Bohlander, T. Scambos, T. Painter, and M. Fahnestock. 2013. MEaSUREs MODIS Mosaic of Greenland 2005 (MOG2005) Image Map, Version 1. Boulder, Colorado. NSIDC: National Snow and Ice Data Center, https://doi.org/10.5067/IAGYM8Q26QRE

Hock, R. 2003. Temperature index melt modeling in mountain areas. Journal of Hydrology 282(1–4):104–115, https://doi.org/​10.1016/S0022-1694(03)00257-9

International Ice Patrol. 1995, updated 2015. International Ice Patrol (IIP) Iceberg Sightings Database, Version 1. Boulder, Colorado USA: National Snow and Ice Data Center/World Data Center for Glaciology, https://doi.org/10.7265/N56Q1V5R.

Johannessen, O.M., M. Babiker, and M.W. Miles. 2011. Petermann Glacier, North Greenland: Massive calving in 2010 and the past half century. The Cryosphere Discussions 5:169–181, https://doi.org/10.5194/tcd-5-169-2011.

Johnson, H.L., A. Münchow, K.K. Falkner, and H. Melling. 2011. Ocean circulation properties in Petermann Fjord, Greenland. Journal of Geophysical Research 116, C01003, https://doi.org/10.1029/2010JC006519.

King, T., R. Phillips, J. Barrett, and G. Sonnichsen. 2009. Probabilistic pipeline burial analysis for protection against ice scour. Cold Regions Science and Technology 59:58–64, https://doi.org/​10.1016/j.coldregions.2009.05.013

MacGregor, J.A., G.A. Catania, M.S. Markowski, and A. Andrews. 2012. Widespread rifting and retreat of ice-shelf margins in the eastern Amundsen Sea Embayment between 1972 and 2011. Journal of Glaciology 58(209):458–466, https://doi.org/​10.3189/2012JoG11J262

Martin, S., R. Drucker, R. Aster, F. Davey, E. Okal, T. Scambos, and D. MacAyeal. 2010. Kinematic and seismic analysis of giant tabular iceberg breakup at Cape Adare, Antarctica. Journal of Geophysical Research 115, B06311, https://doi.org/10.1029/2009JB006700

McGonigal, D., D. Hagen, and L. Guzma. 2011. Extreme ice features distribution in the Canadian Arctic. Proceedings of the 20th International Conference on Port and Ocean Engineering Under Arctic Conditions, July 11–14, 2011, Montréal, Quebec, Canada, POAC 11-045.

Metz, J.M., J.A. Dowdeswell, and C.M.T. Woodworth-Lynas. 2008. Sea-floor scour at the mouth of Hudson Strait by deep-keeled icebergs from the Laurentide Ice Sheet. Marine Geology 253:149–159. 

Moon, T., I. Joughin, B. Smith, M.R. van den Broeke, W.J. van de Berg, B. Noel, and M. Usher. 2012. Distinct patterns of seasonal Greenland glacier velocity. Geophysical Research Letters 41(20):7,209–7,216, https://doi.org/​10.1002/2014GL061836

Mueller, D., A. Crawford, L. Copland, and W. Van Wychen. 2013. Ice Island and Iceberg Fluxes from Canadian High Arctic Sources. Report prepared for the Northern Transportation Assessment Initiative, Innovation Policy Branch, Transport Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, 22 pp.

Muggah, J., I. Church, J. Beaudoin, and J.E. Hughes Clarke. 2010. Seamless Online Distribution of Amundsen Multibeam Data. Paper S7.2 in Proceedings of the Canadian Hydrographic Conference, 19 pp.

Münchow, A., L. Padman, and H.A. Fricker. 2014. Interannual changes of the floating ice shelf of Petermann Gletscher, North Greenland, from 2000 to 2012. Journal of Glaciology 60(221):489–499, https://doi.org/10.3189/2014JoG13J135.

National Energy Board. 2014. Environmental Assessment Report for the Northeastern Canada 2D Seismic Survey (Baffin Bay/Davis Strait), 36 pp.

Newell, J.P. 1993. Exceptionally large icebergs and ice islands in Eastern Canadian waters: A review of sightings from 1900 to present. Arctic 46(3):205–211. 

Padman, L., and S. Erofeeva. 2004. A barotropic inverse tidal model for the Arctic Ocean. Geophysical Research Letters 31, L02303, https://doi.org/10.1029/2003GL019003.

Peterson, I.K. 2011. Ice island occurrence on the Canadian East Coast. Proceedings of the International Conference on Port and Ocean Engineering under Arctic Conditions, July 10–14, 2011, Montréal, Quebec, Canada, POAC11-044. 

Peterson, I.K., S.J. Prinsenberg, M. Pittman, and L. Desjardins. 2009. The drift of an exceptionally large ice island from the Petermann Glacier in 2008. Proceedings of the 20th International Conference on Port and Ocean Engineering under Arctic Conditions, June 9–12, 2009, Luleå, Sweden, POAC09-130.

Pizzolato, L., S.E.L. Howell, C. Derksen, J. Dawson, and L. Copland. 2014. Changing sea ice conditions and marine transportation activity in Canadian Arctic waters between 1990 and 2012. Climatic Change 123:161–173, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-013-1038-3.

Rignot, E., and P. Kanagaratnam. 2006. Changes in the velocity structure of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Science 311(5763):986–990, https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1121381

Rignot, E., and K. Steffen. 2008. Channelized bottom melting and stability of floating ice shelves. Geophysical Research Letters 35, L02503, https://doi.org/10.1029/2007GL031765.

Savage, S.B. 2001. Aspects of iceberg drift and deterioration. Pp. 279–318 in Geomophological Fluid Mechanics. N.J. Balmforth and A. Provenzale, eds, Springer Verlag Press, Berlin. 

Scambos, T., R. Ross, R. Bauer, Y. Yermolin, P. Skvarca, D. Long, J. Bohlander, and T. Haran. 2008. Calving and ice-shelf break-up processes investigated by proxy: Antarctic tabular iceberg evolution during northward drift. Journal of Glaciology 54:579–591, https://doi.org/10.3189/002214308786570836.

Scambos, T., O. Sergienko, A. Sargent, D. MacAyeal, and J. Fastook. 2005. ICESat profiles of tabular iceberg margins and iceberg breakup at low latitudes. Geophysical Research Letters 32, L23S09, https://doi.org/10.1029/2005GL023802.

Smith, K.L., A.D. Sherman, T.J. Shaw, and J. Sprintall. 2013. Icebergs as unique lagrangian ecosystems in polar seas. Annual Review of Marine Science 5:269–287, https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-marine-121211-172317

Squire, V.A. 2007. Of ocean waves and sea-ice revisited. Cold Regions Science and Technology 49:110–133, https://doi.org/10.1016/​j.coldregions.2007.04.007

Stern, A.A., E. Johnson, D.M. Holland, T.J.W. Wagner, P. Wadhams, R. Bates, E.P. Abrahamsen, K.W. Nicholls, A. Crawford, J. Gagnon, and others. 2015. Wind-driven upwelling around grounded tabular icebergs. Journal of Geophysical Research 120:5,820–5,835, https://doi.org/​10.1002/2015JC010805.

Tang, C.C.L., C.K. Ross, T. Yao, B. Petrie, B.M. DeTracey, and E. Dunlap. 2004. The Circulation, Water Masses and Sea-Ice of Baffin Bay. Report prepared for the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Ocean Sciences Division, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, 60 pp.

Todd, B.J., C.F.M. Lewis, and P.J.C. Ryall. 1988. Comparison of trends of iceberg scour marks with iceberg trajectories and evidence of paleocurrent trends on Saglek Bank, northern Labrador Shelf. Canadian Journal of Earth Science 24:1,374–1,883, https://doi.org/10.1139/e88-132

US Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Geophysical Data Center. 2006. 2-minute Gridded Global Relief Data (ETOPO2v2), http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/mgg/fliers/06mgg01.html.

Van Wychen, W., and L. Copland. In press. Ice island drift mechanisms in the Canadian High Arctic. In Arctic Ice Shelves and Ice Islands. L. Copland and D. Mueller, eds, Springer, New York, New York. 

Vernet, M., K.L. Smith Jr., A.O. Cefarelli, J.J. Helly, R.S. Kaufmann, H. Lin, D.G. Long, A.E. Murray, B.H. Robison, H.A. Ruhl, and others. 2012. Islands of ice: Influence of free-drifting Antarctic icebergs on pelagic marine ecosystems. Oceanography 25(3):38–39, https://doi.org/​10.5670/oceanog.2012.72

Wagner, T.J.W., P. Wadhams, R. Bates, P. Elosegui, A. Stern, D. Vella, E.P. Abrahamsen, A. Crawford, and K.W. Nicholls. 2014. The “footloose” mechanism: Iceberg decay from hydrostatic stresses. Geophysical Research Letters 41:5,522–5,529, https://doi.org/10.1002/2014GL060832.