Monday, 29 October 2012

'Operation Iceberg' - 30 Oct & 1 Nov, BBC2, 9pm

A newly 'born' iceberg
Operation Iceberg, a BBC Two, Discovery Channel and BBC Learning, goes live at the end of the month. Two programmes will be initially broadcast on BBC Two at 9pm on Tuesday, 30 October, and Thursday, 1 November. During the show, the results from field work in Arctic Greenland will be shown that include the sonar data of Store Glacier on the west coast of Greenland and of the ice island that broke from Petermann Glacier two years ago. The ice island is now near the coast of Baffin Island, having travelled over 1000km south!
A sneak preview of the sonar data from Store Glacier and the 3D models of the actual calving events (under Surveying) can be seen on our research team pages.
Topography of the Store Glacier submarine lanscape

The BBC team of filmmakers and scientists included Dr Richard Bates of the Department of Earth Sciences. They embarked on a five-week mission to document the life-cycle of icebergs from their birth to death, to reveal new scientific knowledge.

A bear on top of the iceberg uder study.
Using new techniques of data acquisition and processing developed by Dr Bates over the last three years of working in the Arctic the team was able to compare the ice front at Store Glacier before and after massive iceberg calving event. This enabled them to map the ice front in hitherto un-recorded detail in order to measure changes that allowed calculations of ice loss from the glacier front. The mapping also identified critical zones in the glacier where melt water exits from fissures and ice caves.  These zones are thought to be critical to the processes of glacier degradation. The second programme follows the sonar and above water scanning of a large tabular berg that broke from the Petermann Glacier in 2010.  This berg, one of the largest in Arctic waters is now home to its own ecosystem complete with top preditors. [press release]