The Petermann Ice Island, a Manhattan-sized iceberg that broke off the Petermann Glacier in Greenland last August, has since traveled almost 4,800 kilometres (3,000 miles) and is currently bumping off the Canadian coast of Labrador.
The glacier is so huge that it can be seen equally well from space (this photo was taken yesterday from the International Space Station by NASA astronaut and Expedition 27 flight engineer Ron Garan) and from American Hill, a promontory near the Labrador village of Saint Lewis. less than 50 kilometres from the northern tip of Newfoundland.
Saint Lewis Mayor Annie Rumbolt said today that the iceberg has been the talk of the town for almost a week approaching to within 15 kilometres of shore. “You can drive on up to American Hill and see it from there,” she said. “Everybody has.”
Evan Pye, 16, a student from Lodge Bay who’s spending his summer cleaning up Labrador beaches as part of the Green Team Conservation Corps, said that while icebergs are always floating past this coast, this one is “four or five times” larger than anything that the locals have seen before. When the iceberg calved from the Petermann Glacier last year, it was estimated to be almost 250 square kilometres - more than four times larger than Manhattan. A navigation buoy that was dropped on it last fall charted its course through the winter, but ceased sending a signal almost two months ago. But the ‘berg, still more than 55 square kilometres, continues to show up on satellite imagery and obviously caught Ron Garan’s attention as he was looking out of a space station window.
NASA spokesters say that the Petermann Ice Island is unlikely to strike land in Labrador or Newfoundland because the massive berg will first ground itself on the sea floor some distance from shore. But as the residents of Saint Lewis were reporting it blowing back out to sea, it remains a serious threat to shipping and oil rigs in the area.