Petermann and Ryder Glacier Ice Island

Ice island from 2010 and 2012 calvings litter Nares Strait and northern Baffin Island, Canada. All these glacier fragments originate from Petermann and Ryder Gletscher in north-west Greenland. The image below is a composite that Luc Desjardins of the Canadian Ice Service compiled from RadarSat imagery. He painstakingly identified 25 segments in these imagery.

Ice Islands and fragments from Petermann and Ryder glacier 2010 and 2012 calvings. [Credit: Luc Desjardings, Canadian Ice Service]

The largest piece is PII-2012-A1 and it covers an area a little less than 2 Manhattans (100 km^2). We see it in Kane Basin for several weeks now as it pivots back and forth with the tides around the point where it is stuck to the bottom of the ocean. The second largest piece is RII-2012 roughly half the size of Manhattan (33 km^2) and it originates from Ryder Gletscher which is to the north by north-east of Petermann Gletscher. Trudy Wohleben identified this piece when it was entered Nares Strait from the north about 4 weeks ago and together we traced it back to Ryder Gletscher where it had lingered for several years. RII-2012 is now moving rapidly south and is about exit Nares Strait to enter Baffin Bay:

Two of these ice island send their position several time each day with the data made available at for PII-2010-B-a (9 km^2) and for PII-2012-A2 (13 km^2). The last piece broke off from Petermann on July 16, 2012 and it entered Nares Strait in August when we passed it during our explorations of Petermann Fjord on Aug. 10/11, 2012 aboard the CCGS Henry Larsen:

Canadian Coast Guard Ship Henry Larsen at the entrance to Petermann Fjord on Aug.-10, 2012. The ice island PII-2012 is in the background with puddles on sea ice in the foreground. Polaris Bay, Greenland is in the far back. [Photo Credit: CCGS Henry Larsen and Jo Poole.]

5 responses to “Petermann and Ryder Glacier Ice Island

  1. Andreas
    Is Buoy #11252 marking what’s now identified as PII-2012-A-1

    and is there a sailwx identifier to follow it with?

    The storm that had centered over Hudson Bay is blowing some big winds over northern Greenland & while i’ve bookmarked Han & Littleton’s weather stations I can’t seem to find the data from Joe island.

    You had mentioned once how small the community of Arctic researchers is and I wonder if you know of anyone near the Niagara Falls area who might be interested in addressing a group of Mensans next May. We can’t afford to pay lecture fees, but can offer a very good luncheon, a bright if possibly uninformed audience and conversations that could lead anywhere.


  2. Terry: Yes, the two IABP buoys (11252 and 11251) refer to Environment Canada buoys placed on Petermann Ice Island segments which have WMO identifiers 47552 and 47551 which is how they are listed at … there are a few more, actually.

    Weather stations on Joe and Brevoort Islands: I will have to get in touch with Dr. Humfrey Melling of Government Canada on that one. It is all a little crazy for all of us as we all have multiple field work on-going and try to prepare via writing proposal field work to take place in 2014 and beyond off northern Greenland and Ellesmere Island, but I would like to see those data (Joe and Brevoort Wx) online as soon as possible also.

    Niagara Falls in May, hm, lets move that part out of the public and into the private domain.

  3. Thanks so much for the reply. I’m aware that your time is at a premium, so please don’t feel compelled to promptly answer my posts. I’m very appreciative of your blog and the effort this represents on your part. I had thought that I had seen the Joe Island data and had simply lost the url.

    Best of luck with the proposals. We need much more on the ground field work & we need it while there is still ice to study.

    I’ll start paying attention to my inbox.


  4. For your information, there is also a tracker on PII-B1, deployed by a BBC film/science team this summer during the recording of their two-part program Operation Iceberg (Discovery Channel is co-producing, so their edit should be broadcast in the US sometime this autumn – I think it will be a single program in the US). The URL for this tracker is

Leave a Reply to Terry Moran Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.