Blog Archive

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Last intact ice shelf in Canadian Arctic may be slipping away [Milne ice shelf, Ellesmere Island]

by Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic, Alaska Dispatch, August 10, 2013

Courtesy Ian Joughin.     
The last fully intact ice shelf on northern Ellesmere Island in Canada’s Arctic may soon be slipping away.

Ice shelves found in the north of the island are formed from sea ice and glacier ice, measuring some 100 yards thick. While other ice shelves nearby have long since broken up, the Milne Ice Shelf remained intact, blocking the mouth of the Milne Fjord.

Cracks and fractures

But this year, scientists have noticed fractures to the Milne ice shelf that indicate it may be reaching the end of its life cycle.

“It’s become a maze or a network of many different crevasses, which very much indicates that the ice shelf is reaching its structural-integrity limit,” says Andrew Hamilton, a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, who studies the Milne ice shelf.

“In the coming years it will most likely continue to break up and eventually float away as icebergs or ice islands into the Arctic Ocean.”

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.

No comments: