Several beacons are now at work on the Petermann ice islands. A Compact Air Launched Ice Beacon was delivered by a Dash-7 (DHC-7), a four-engine plane that is a workhorse of the Canadian arctic. There was no need to land: The crew slid the beacon through a slot in the side of the fuselage then watched it spiral down, attached to a small parachute. Additional beacons were delivered by the CCGS Amundsen, a research ship. The beacons all relay their signals through satellites to distant tracking facilities.
In addition to using beacons, Langlois and his colleagues monitor ice hazards using satellite imagery. The photos typically have a resolution of 100 meters, which is plenty detailed enough in the current situation. The single tongue of ice that broke off the Petermann Glacier was four times the size of Manhattan. When PM spoke to Langlois in mid-October, satellite images revealed the largest pieces to measure roughly 39 square miles and 49 square miles—still bigger than Manhattan, which is 22.7 square miles in area.
The ice may reach Newfoundland in about a year, where it would begin to threaten oil rigs and ships, but it could just as easily get stuck in an arctic backwater, Ellesmere Island's Jones Sound, perhaps, or Frobisher Bay at the southern tip of Baffin Island. That has been the fate of some previous ice monsters from northern Greenland.
(The Petermann ice islands are outlined in the satellite image shown here.)
For More Information:
Check out the about the Petermann Ice Island.
Follow the CIS Petermann beacon (tracking number of 47557) on . Select ship traffic worldwide, and then click on the Canadian Eastern Arctic region on the main map display to see the location of the beacon.