Climate change shocker: Canada's ice shelves halved in six years

Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com
September 28, 2011



After the Arctic sea ice extent hit its second lowest size on record this summer—or lowest (depending on the source)—comes another climate change shocker: in the past six years Canada's millennia-old ice shelves have shed nearly half their size. One ice shelf—the Serson shelf—is almost entirely gone, while another—the Ward Hunt shelf—has split into two distinct shelves. The ice shelves have lost 3 billion tons in this year alone.

"These unique and massive geographical features that we consider to be part of the map of Canada are disappearing and they won’t come back," Derek Mueller, a researcher with Carleton University, says in a press release. Mueller attributes the ice loss to warming temperatures, while cracks in their foundations expose them to open water, quickening the melt.

The Serson ice shelf measured 120 square kilometers until it split in two in 2008. Today the two parts equal only 32 square kilometers. The Ward Hunt shelf split into two this summer for the first time, while the Ellesmere Island ice shelves have shed 480 square kilometers of ice in six years.

"The ice shelves were formed and sustained in a different climate than what we have now. As they disappear, it implies we are returning to conditions unseen in the Arctic for thousands of years," Mueller adds.













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CITATION:
Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (September 28, 2011).

Climate change shocker: Canada's ice shelves halved in six years.

http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0928-hance_canada_shelves.html