(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists report that a huge chunk of Canada’s last completely intact ice shelf, about 4,000 years old, broke away, causing the shelf to shrink by more than half.
Separated from the glacier, the block of ice split in two, forming an iceberg the size of Manhattan.
Climate change likely triggered the shelf collapse, the researchers said. This summer, temperatures in the region were 9 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) higher than the average from 1980 to 2010, said Luke Copland, professor of glaciology at the University of Ottawa.
A huge section of the Milne #IceShelf has collapsed into the #Arctic Ocean producing a ~79 km2 ice island. 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. #MilneIceIsland #Nunavut #seaice pic.twitter.com/fGfj8Me9tA
— ECCC Canadian Ice Service (@ECCC_CIS) August 2, 2020
“Air temperatures above normal, winds from the shore and open water in front of the ice shelf are all part of the recipe for breaking a glacier,” the Canada Service said on Twitter.
Satellite images show that about 43 percent of the shelf has broken away, forming chunks up to 80 meters thick.
The Arctic heats up much faster than the rest of the world, and high temperatures are causing the ice to melt. Today, polar ice caps are melting six times faster than in the 1990s.
Canada used to have a solid ice shelf spanning the north coast of Ellesmere, but anthropogenic warming has caused it to collapse, White said.
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