Massive ice sheet breaks away

Posted on 01 April 2007

In December 2006, after piecing together evidence from seismic readings and satellite images, scientists revealed that a giant ice shelf had broken away in the Canadian High Arctic.
In December 2006, after piecing together evidence from seismic readings and satellite images, scientists revealed that a giant ice shelf had broken away in the Canadian High Arctic.

A huge section of Ayles Ice Shelf on Ellesmere Island in Nunavut, Canada, broke away and floated out to sea on13 August 2005.

According to news reports, the break took less than an hour, and Dr Luke Copland, director of the University of Ottawa’s Laboratory for Cryospheric Research, described the break as evidence of the Arctic’s rapid response to warming temperatures.

Dr Copland said: “Since 1900, approximately 90 percent of the Ellesmere Island ice shelves have calved and floated away. This is a one-way process as there is insufficient new ice formation to replace the ice that has been lost.

“The Ayles calving event was the largest in at least the last 25 years; a total of 87.1 square kilometres (33.63 square miles) of ice was lost in this event, of which the largest piece was 66.4 square kilometres (25.64 square miles) in area. This piece is equivalent in size to approximately 11,000 football fields or a little larger than the city of Manhattan.”

More information: www.ice. ec.gc.ca/app/WsvPageDsp.cfm

Nigel Allan nallan@wwf.no Source: NASA, Canadian Ice Service & University of Ottawa
Ayles Ice Shelf
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