Canada's last fully intact ice shelf has just collapsed

Pablo Tucker
August 12, 2020

It seems likely that the collapse of the Milne Ice Shelf will contribute to the acceleration of global warming, while it also marks the loss of the northern hemisphere's last epishelf lake, a body of freshwater that sits atop an ice sheet floating on the ocean.

An enormous piece of Canada's last totally intact ice shelf, some 4,000 years of ages, has actually broken off, decreasing the shelf by over half, researchers reported last Sunday After separating from the shelf, the piece split in 2, forming an iceberg practically the size of Manhattan. The biggest is almost the size of Manhattan - 21 square miles (55 square kilometres) and 7 miles long (11.5 kilometres).

'Entire cities are that size.

Before anyone dismisses the phenomenon as just an effect of the summer season, Luke Copland, University Research Chair in Glaciology of University of Ottawa's Department of Geography, pointed out that the Milne Ice Shelf collapse is "clearly" connected to climate change. According to the Canadian Ice Service, "above normal air temperatures, offshore winds and open water in front of the ice shelf are all part of the recipe for ice shelf break up".


"These ice shelves are well out of balance with the climate and I think their demise is inevitable", he said.

The Arctic has been warming at two times the worldwide rate for the last 30 years.

In Canada, there used to be a continuous ice shelf spanning the northern coast of Ellesmere, but human-made warming has caused it to break apart, White said. Ellesmere Island has also been significantly impacted, with two of its ice caps completely disappearing in the sweltering heat.

By 2005 it was down to six remaining ice shelves but "the Milne was really the last complete ice shelf", she said.


The shelf is located on the edge of Ellesmere Island, which resides in the northern Canadian territory of Nunavut.

Posting on Twitter, the Canadian Ice Service said: "A huge section of the Milne #IceShelf has collapsed into the #Arctic Ocean producing a ~79 km2 ice island".

"We saw them going, like someone with terminal cancer", he told Reuters.

Serreze and other NSIDC scientists had published a 2017 study predicting the ice caps were likely to disappear within five years. Scientists believe the ice caps formed several centuries ago. "The ice islands are currently free-floating and mobile but for now they are confined to the coastline by pack ice", said White. 'You have the memories.


The vanishing was confirmed final month, when NASA satellite tv for pc pictures of the area revealed a whole lack of snow and ice, stated Serreze, who studied the caps as a graduate scholar on his first journey to the Arctic years in the past.

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