Birth of Iceberg From a Greenland Glacier Captured

Envisat recently captured satellite data of the creation of an iceberg from the Petermann glacier in North-West Greenland.  Captured between August 3 and August 7th, Envisat Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) data shows the Petermann glacier ‘calving’ and the movement of the new iceberg towards Nares Strait.

The ice tongue of the Petermann glacier was the largest in Greenland, with an extension of about 70 km until early August. This tide-water glacier regularly advances towards the ocean at about 1 km per year. During the previous months, satellite images revealed that several cracks had appeared on the glacier surface,suggesting to scientists that a break-up event was imminent.


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According to ESA, the “Petermann glacier is one of the largest glaciers connecting the Greenland inland ice sheet with the Arctic Ocean.”  The new iceberg measures about 30 km by 14 km in size with an area of about 245 sq km.

Time-series animation based on Envisat Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) data from 31 July, 4 August, and 7 August 2010 showing the breaking of the Petermann glacier and the movement of the new iceberg towards Nares Strait. Credits: ESA

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