Photo credit: Martin Jakobsson

The Petermann Glacier drains the north-western part of the Greenland ice sheet. The glacier has received considerable attention since its floating ice shelves lost an large area by calving in 2010 and 2012. The Petermann Glacier has proven to be paired with the Greenland ice sheet through an ancient canal system that stretches from the Petermann Fjord and deep into the ice.

"By documenting changes in the Petermann Glacier, its floating ice shelf and sea conditions since the end of the last ice age, we want to increase our knowledge about this large system”, says Martin Jakobsson, Professor at the Department of Geological Sciences, Stockholm University, and one of the two chief scientists.

Focus on the climate evolution

The expedition’s overall objectives are to explore how the Petermann Glacier is affected by the climate evolution since the end of the last ice glacial period, and if ice changes are independent of, or linked to, changes in the ground fixed Petermann Glacier, its floating ice shelf, seawater temperature and the relative sea level. Main focus is also the question of the significance climate change has had on the Petermann ice shelf during the early glacial period, the Little Ice Age and the period since the late 1800s.

“We will also follow up measurements made in connection with the large ‘calving’ from the Petermann Glacier in 2010 and 2012, as well as try to get a better view of the longer time perspective. By repeating measurements, both in the fjord and in the glacier ice, we can better understand the dynamics behind the melting of the glacier, what is naturally recurring and what may be a consequence from recent climate change, which can help us predict future melting”, says Martin Jakobsson.

Six scientists and two research projects from Stockholm University

In this Swedish-American expedition, around fifty international scientists will be working on research projects in areas such as marine geology and geophysics, oceanography, and ecology. From Stockholm University six scientists/engineers are involved, and two research projects of the expedition are conducted at the University:

  • Patrick Crill, Professor of Biogeochemistry at the Department of Geological Sciences is responsible for the project “Biogeochemical measurements” which aims to, inter alia, measure the greenhouse gas methane continuously during the expedition.
  • Anders Angerbjörn, professor at the Department of Zoology is responsible for the project “Arctic islands” which aims to clarify the consequences global warming may have on terrestrial Arctic ecosystems.

About Petermann 2015

Petermann 2015, an international research expedition to the area around the Petermann Glacier in northwestern Greenland is conducted July 28 to August 31. The icebreaker Oden will serve as the platform for research that will be carried out in the sea, on the glacier and on land. The research leaders of the expedition are Alan Mix, Oregon State University, USA and Martin Jakobsson, Stockholm University.

The Petermann expedition is the start of the cooperation agreement signed between the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat and the Office of Polar Programs at the National Science Foundation (NSF), which aims to strengthen cooperation in Arctic research between the United States and Sweden. The agreement is based on a letter of intent for research and logistic cooperation, and includes also the development of a joint research plan.
More information on the Petermann expedition at the Polar Research Secretariat website

The Swedish Polar Research Secretariat’s collaboration with the Swedish Maritime Administration on the icebreaker Oden is the key to the successful use of Oden for Swedish and international research. The two authorities have together constructed the vessel to become a unique research platform.
More information about the icebreaker Oden on the SMA website