NASA has released a new image from space of a massive iceberg – widely heralded in July 2012 to be twice the size of Manhattan – calved from Greenland’s Petermann Glacier in mid-July 2012. NASA’s Terra satellite saw it in September 2012, drifting slowly away from the glacier. It’s drifting in the Nares Strait between Canada’s Ellesmere Island and Greenland.
Scientists have labeled this iceberg as PII-2012. Satellite observations showed it was still intact on August 31, but that, by September 4, it has started to fragment away from the main glacier. Now you can see the main iceberg and two smaller fragments drifting through Nares Strait.
Petermann Glacier is in northwestern Greenland. It connects the Greenland ice sheet to the Arctic Ocean near 81 degrees north latitude. The large iceberg is now drifting in the strait between Greenland and Canada’s Ellesmere Island (which, by the way, is the world’s tenth largest island and Canada’s third largest island).
The iceberg originally calved from the glacier’s floating ice tongue on July 16, 2012. The estimated area of the main iceberg – which you could think of as a new island of ice – is approximately 130 km2.
Ice islands from the Petermann Glacier are known to drift southwards periodically into Baffin Bay. They can move down the Labrador coast, sometimes reaching Newfoundland, where they pose a hazard to shipping and navigation.
Bottom line: A massive iceberg – labeled PII-2012 by scientists and said to be “twice the size of Manhattan” – has broken away from the Petermann Glacier in northernwestern Greenland and is now drifting in the Nares Strait between Greenland and Canada’s Ellesmere Island.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.