When ice is lost from the glacier front, there is less flow resistance and acceleration follows. This is important because Petermann is a glacier that flows through bedrock trenches that extend inland to the thickest parts of the ice sheet.
With assistance from Greenpeace, Dr. Alun Hubbard, a glaciologist with the Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences at Aberystwyth University, placed time lapse cameras and GPS sensors during July and August of 2009. The instruments were placed on the Petermann Glacier in anticipation of a large ice area detachment that occurred between August 3-5, 2010.
With support from the US National Science Foundation and the UK Natural Environment Research Council, Dr. Hubbard returned to Greenland in July 2011 to retrieve the data from the cameras and sensors.
On his return from collecting the data, Dr. Hubbard said:
Although I knew what to expect in terms of ice loss from satellite imagery. . . [it was like] looking into the Grand Canyon full of ice and coming back two years later to find it’s full of water (Glacier Demise).While the data is being analyzed, the photographs below tell the story. View more photographs at the Byrd Polar Research Centre.