Ottawa Citizen – Original article here
Deana Stokes Sullivan, Postmedia News May 24, 2011
A huge floating island of ice that broke off the Petermann Glacier near Greenland last August could add some excitement this summer during Newfoundland and Labrador’s tourist season.
“It’s tracking pretty close to Labrador. Our best estimate is it’s probably going to ground up there and break up,” says Charles Randell, president and chief executive officer of C-Core, a Newfoundland research and development company with ice engineering expertise.
Icebergs from the fractured ice island are expected to appear off Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula toward the second half of July and into August. If they don’t break up or melt, they’ll make the usual trek around the province’s coastline.
That’s a bit later than the normal iceberg season, but coincides with the province’s prime tourist season, “so it should be a good year for iceberg tourism,” Randell said.
The Petermann glacier generated a lot of interest last year when it calved what started out as a 251-square-kilometre ice island. Recently, it was estimated to be smaller, at about 64 square kilometres.
Randell said icebergs are a regular occurrence, but ice islands — very large tabular icebergs like this one — are a bit of an anomaly, so C-Core’s engineers and researchers take advantage of any opportunity to learn more about them by tracking them, analyzing their melt rates and probability of breaking up.
It could just stay off Labrador and melt, Randell said, but most likely it will break up into more conventional icebergs “and give us more of the sorts of things that we’re used to seeing here.”
C-Core has been involved with tracking icebergs using satellite imagery for about 14 years. It’s a partner in an iceberg tracking website, www.icebergfinder.com, with Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador, the provincial Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.
Most of the iceberg sightings published on the website have originated from space, using satellite data provided by the Canadian Space Agency and European Space Agency and technology to locate icebergs off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.