ice shelf collapse

Canada's last fully intact arctic ice shelf has collapsed

Canada's last fully intact arctic ice shelf has collapsed, with a good chunk of it dissolving over two days in late July, researchers said on Thursday.

The Milne Ice Shelf is located on Ellesmere Island, in the northern Canadian territory of Nunavut; its surface area has recently decreased by almost half, setting large ice islands adrift in the Arctic Ocean.

Canadian Ice Service researchers cite above normal air temperatures, offshore winds and open water in front of the ice shelf as the primary culprits behind the ice shelf's demise.

The 4,000-year-old ice shelf was considered to be one of the least vulnerable to break-up since it is well-protected in Milne Fiord, according to a blog post from researcher Derek Mueller of Carleton University in Ottawa.

"This drastic decline in ice shelves is clearly related to climate change," said Luke Copland, University Research Chair in Glaciology in the Department of Geography at the University of Ottawa, in the same blog post.

"This summer has been up to 5°C warmer than the average over the period from 1981 to 2010, and the region has been warming at two to three times the global rate."

Copland added that other Canadian ice shelves are "simply not viable any longer" and will inevitably disappear in the coming decades.

The news of the ice shelf's collapse comes just a few weeks after researchers revealed that polar bears will likely be wiped out almost everywhere but Canada by 2100, due to climate change and shrinking sea levels.

Lead photo by

Wikimedia Commons

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