Much of what was Canada’s last intact ice shelf has split into massive icebergs from high summer temperatures and global warming, scientists said.
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The shelf ice The 4,000-year-old Milne on the northwestern shore of Ellesmere Island had been the last intact platform of Canada until the end of July, when the analyst Adrienne white, from the Canadian Ice Service, noted that satellite photos showed that 43% of it was broken. He said this happened around July 30 or 31.
Two giant icebergs have formed, as well as smaller ones, and have begun to drift away, White said. The largest of these is about 55 square kilometers (21 square miles) and 11.5 kilometers (7 miles) long. Both icebergs are between 70 and 80 meters (230 and 260 feet) thick.
« That’s a gigantic block of ice, » White said. « If one of them is headed for an oil rig, there is nothing you can do but move your oil rig. »
The shelf ice, which had an undulating white surface of 187 square kilometers (72 square miles), and ridges and channels of melt blue water, has now been reduced to 106 square kilometers (41 square miles).
Temperatures from May to early August in the region were 5 degrees Celsius (9 ° Fahrenheit) higher than the average from 1980 to 2010, said Luke Copland, professor of glaciology at the University of Ottawa. This is in addition to an Arctic that had been warming at a faster rate than the rest of the planet, and this region was warming even faster.
« It’s certainly climate change, » Coplan said, noting that the ice shelf is melting at the top from hot air and at the bottom from warmer water.
Ice shelves are hundreds of thousands of years old, thicker than long-term sea ice, but not as big or as old as glaciers, Copland said.
Canada It used to have large ice shelves off the north shore of Ellesmere Island, but they have been fragmenting in recent decades due to man-made global warming, White said.
By 2005 there were six ice shelves left, but « the Milne was really the last shelf ice complete, « he added.