Mammoth ice islands slowly move closer to land

Andrew Robinson
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There are no official counts on the seal population on the 62.5-square kilometre iceberg floating 110 kilometres off the coast of Labrador. Photo courtesy of C-Core


There are some new islands off the coast of Labrador, but forget trying to purchase any Crown land on them.

One, an astounding 62.5-square kilometre island of ice known as PII-A, is now 160 kilometres northeast of Cartwright and 380 kilometres north of St. Anthony.

Charles Randell, president and chief executive officer of C-Core, expects the Bermuda-size chunk of ice will reach the northern half of the island in three weeks.

And iceberg hunters are salivating at the thought of what wonders might await them as the mammoth iceberg breaks into pieces.

It is now moving southwest and is 110 kilometres from the Labrador coastline.

On Wednesday, C-Core recorded its movement at 1.5 km/h, but Thursday it had slowed to a speed of 0.6 km/h.

Last August, a huge slab of ice broke off the Petermann Glacier near Greenland. It was initially thought to be 251 square kilometres.

Randell estimates the hefty chunk of ice off the coast of Labrador weighs anywhere from 3.5 billion to four billion tonnes.

Warmer weather is contributing to sections breaking off from the ice island. Randell said C-Core observed a four-square-kilometre portion of the island break off this week.

"It's a big piece of ice, though, so we should still have lots of icebergs."

Putting its size in perspective, Randell said a slighty smaller iceberg recently separated from Antarctica. It was estimated that iceberg could provide two litres of water per day for everyone on Earth for two years.

"We have that resource up there, and if we could ever do anything with it, that would be amazing," he said. "Very, very pure. 110,000-year-old water. Not many contaminants in that."

Meanwhile, a smaller ice island is piquing the curiosity of boaters in Mary's Harbour, which is also home to the Battle Harbour Heritage Properties.

"It's quite phenomenal," said Gordon Slade, managing director of the Battle Harbour Historic Trust.

Slade spoke with a man who took his boat out to the island last week for a visit. Reports upon his return described wonderous sights.

"There's harbours and bays, waterfalls, and all sorts of stuff on it," Slade said.

The island was approximately 32 kilometres from Battle Harbour, according to Slade, but a five-day storm in Labrador with northeast winds has since pushed the island closer.

Randell said there are now three small ice islands in that area. One that was previously six square kilometres separated earlier this week.

The daily iceberg bulletin from Environment Canada's Canadian Ice Service identified upwards of 150 icebergs off the coast of Labrador and less than 20 off the coast of Newfoundland Thursday.

Slade said conditions at sea have prevented boats from visiting the iceberg this week.

Organizations: Battle Harbour Heritage Properties, Battle Harbour Historic Trust, Environment Canada Canadian Ice Service

Geographic location: Labrador, Cartwright, St. Anthony Bermuda Greenland Antarctica Mary's Harbour Battle Harbour

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Recent comments

  • W McLean
    June 24, 2011 - 16:01

    Amazing video... and remember, this isn't even the biggest of the ice islands!!!