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Crawford, AJ, Wadhams P, Wagner TJW, Stern A, Abrahamsen EP, Church I, Bates R, Nicholls KW.  2016.  Journey of an Arctic ice island. Oceanography. 29:254-263.   10.5670/oceanog.2016.30   AbstractWebsite

In August 2010, a 253 km(2) ice island calved from the floating glacial tongue of Petermann Glacier in Northwest Greenland. Petermann Ice Island (PII)-B, a large fragment of this original ice island, is the most intensively observed ice island in recent decades. We chronicle PII-B's deterioration over four years while it drifted more than 2,400 km south along Canada's eastern Arctic coast, investigate the ice island's interactions with surrounding ocean waters, and report on its substantial seafloor scour. Three-dimensional sidewall scans of PII-B taken while it was grounded 130 km southeast of Clyde River, Nunavut, show that prolonged wave erosion at the waterline during sea ice-free conditions created a large underwater protrusion. The resulting buoyancy forces caused a 100 m x 1 km calving event, which was recorded by two GPS units. A field team observed surface waters to be warmer and fresher on the side of PII-B where the calving occurred, which perhaps led to the accelerated growth of the protrusion. PII-B produced up to 3.8 gigatonnes (3.8 x 1012 kg) of ice fragments, known hazards to the shipping and resource extraction industries, monitored over 22 months. Ice island seafloor scour, such as a 850 m long, 3 m deep trench at PII-B's grounding location, also puts subseafloor installations (e.g., pipelines) at risk. This long-term and interdisciplinary assessment of PII-B is the first such study in the eastern Canadian Arctic and captures the multiple implications and risks that ice islands impose on the natural environment and offshore industries.

Wagner, TJW, James TD, Murray T, Vella D.  2016.  On the role of buoyant flexure in glacier calving. Geophysical Research Letters. 43:232-240.   10.1002/2015gl067247   AbstractWebsite

Interactions between glaciers and the ocean are key for understanding the dynamics of the cryosphere in the climate system. Here we investigate the role of hydrostatic forces in glacier calving. We develop a mathematical model to account for the elastic deformation of glaciers in response to three effects: (i) marine and lake-terminating glaciers tend to enter water with a nonzero slope, resulting in upward flexure around the grounding line; (ii) horizontal pressure imbalances at the terminus are known to cause hydrostatic in-plane stresses and downward acting torque; (iii) submerged ice protrusions at the glacier front may induce additional buoyancy forces that can cause calving. Our model provides theoretical estimates of the importance of each effect and suggests geometric and material conditions under which a given glacier will calve from hydrostatic flexure. We find good agreement with observations. This work sheds light on the intricate processes involved in glacier calving and can be hoped to improve our ability to model and predict future changes in the ice-climate system.