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Canada's Last Fully Intact Ice Shelf Collapses

Canada's Last Fully Intact Ice Shelf Collapses

The Canadian Arctic's last fully intact ice shelf has collapsed, losing more than 40 percent of its area across a few days at the end of last month, researchers have said.

The Milne Ice Shelf is on the edge of Ellesmere Island in 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. 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."

A follow up tweet shared satellite images from 30 July to 4 August showing the collapse of the ice shelf, explaining that it was now reduced in area by 43 percent.

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Luke Copland, a glaciologist at the University of Ottawa, who studies the Milne Ice Shelf told Reuters: "Entire cities are that size. These are big pieces of ice.

"This was the largest remaining intact ice shelf, and it's disintegrated, basically."

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This summer in the Canadian Arctic temperatures have been 5°C above the 30-year average, Copland said.

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This has meant that smaller ice caps have been melting quickly as they don't have the bulk to stay cold. As these glaciers vanish, bedrock is exposed which then heats up and speeds up the whole melting process.

Copland told Reuters: "The very small ones, we're losing them dramatically. You feel like you're on a sinking island chasing these features, and these are large features. It's not as if it's a little tiny patch of ice you find in your garden."

Ellesmere has also lost its two St Patrick Bay ice caps this summer.

Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Boulder, Colorado, told Reuters: "We saw them going, like someone with terminal cancer. It was only a matter of time."

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There are two more ice caps in Ellesmere - Simmons and Murray - both of which Serreze predicts will have disappeared within the next 10 years.

Featured Image Credit: NASA/Handout

Topics: World News

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Claire Reid

Claire is a journalist at LADbible who, after dossing around for a few years, went to Liverpool John Moores University. She graduated with a degree in Journalism and a whole load of debt. When not writing words in exchange for money she is usually at home watching serial killer documentaries surrounded by cats. You can contact Claire at [email protected]