CI2D3 2017-10-05T05:58:27+00:00

Canadian Ice Island Drift, Deterioration and
Detection (CI2D3) database

About CI2D3

Motion and deterioration of ice islands represented in the Canadian Ice Island Drift, Deterioration and Detection (CI2D3) Database. These ice islands are fragments of those that originally calved from the Petermann Glacier in 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012, as well as from smaller calving events at other northwest Greenland floating ice tongues. The size of the ice island at the time of it’s observation is symbolized by the dot size. Animation courtesy of Greg Crocker.

The Canadian Ice Island Drift, Deterioration and Detection (CI2D3) database is a joint initiative between the Water and Ice Research Lab (Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada) and the Canadian Ice Service (Environment Canada) to digitize and catalogue major ice island calving events in Canadian waters for research purposes.

Ice islands are massive, tabular icebergs which calve from ice shelves and floating glacier tongues.  The ability to identify, monitor and predict the drift and deterioration of these immense ice hazards is crucial for mitigating the associated risks to marine navigation and offshore infrastructure in their vicinity.

The Canadian Ice Island Drift, Deterioration and Detection project seeks to extract pertinent information from available satellite imagery and build a geospatial database for ice island drift and deterioration analyses, remote-sensing detection and model calibration and validation.

Implementation of the CI2D3 database is well-underway, starting with the influx of ice islands through eastern Canadian waters after massive calving events at the Petermann Glacier in 2008, 2010 and 2012. Thousands of archived RADARSAT-1 and -2 (Canadian Space Agency/MacDonald, Dettweiler and Associates) and Envisat (European Space Agency) synthetic aperture radar images are now being exploited to track ice islands until they are too small to delineate (< 0.25 km2).

Peterman Ice Island (2010) PII-Ba in Lancaster Sound, October 2011. At the time, this ice island was 3 x 6 km, with a surface area of 12 km2 and a freeboard of approximately 15 m. Photo courtesy of Jessy Barrette.

Almost 15,000 ice island polygons pertaining to the 2008, 2010 and 2012 events, as well as a smaller calving events at the Petermann Glacier (2011) and other northwest Greenland ice tongues have been delineated in ArcMap (ESRI) by operators using custom productivity tools. The relationship between each ice island and its daughter fragment(s) is captured to permit spatio-temporal studies of fracturing. The geodatabase will be expanded by digitizing ice islands generated from the Petermann Glacier calving in 2012 with ongoing funding from Polar Knowledge Canada.  We are also seeking funding to extend this database to include the drift of ice islands from the ice shelves of northern Ellesmere Island to the Beaufort Sea and beyond.

We expect this database to be an extremely valuable resource for offshore stakeholders, researchers,  Arctic communities and policymakers. For the first time we have an account of the drift, fragmentation, and decay of major Arctic ice islands from their formation to disintegration, at unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution.

For more information

CI2D3 is led by Derek Mueller, a professor at the Geography and Environmental Studies department at Carleton University. You may contact him at

Downloads & Resources

A sample dataset which is a subset (delineated by the red dashed line) of the CI2D3 database can be browsed below. Click on an ice island to get its area (km2), perimeter (km) and observation month. Coastlines courtesy of the Global Self-Consistent Hierarchical, High Resolution Geography DatabaseLGPL. Community names from GeoBase – Canadian Geographical Names – Nunavut (2015).

To download the sample dataset in shapefile format, click here.

Note that a more complete and quality-controlled dataset will be released by July 1, 2018.

Metadata for this project can also be found in the Polar Data Catalogue (Record Number 12678).

Suggested citation:

Desjardins, L., Crawford, A., Saper, R., Shepherd, J., Schaad, C., and Mueller, D. (2016) Canadian Ice Island Drift, Deterioration and Detection (CI2D3) database. Water and Ice Research Laboratory, Carleton University. Dataset accessed YYYY-MM-DD at DOI: 10.21963/12678

Associated Documents:

Click here to obtain a copy of the CI2D3 Requirements and click here to obtain a copy of the current CI2D3 Documentation.

People and Funding

Contributors to the CI2D3 database include: Derek Mueller, Luc Desjardins, Anna Crawford, Ron Saper, Jeff Shepherd, Correy Schaad, Gregory Lewis-Paley, Sougal Bouh Ali, Adam Garbo, Eslam Alhogaraty, and students of Advanced Topics in GIS (GEOM 4008) in 2015 and student of Applications in GIS (GEOM 4009) in 2017.

This project was undertaken with the financial support of:




Crawford, A.J., P. Wadhams, T.J.W. Wagner, A. Stern, E.P. Abrahamsen, I. Church, R. Bates, and K.W. Nicholls. 2016. Journey of an Arctic ice island. Oceanography 29(2),