Arctic Ice Shelf Breaks Off
Two chunks of ice together measuring 20sqkm have
broken off an Arctic ice shelf, the biggest breakup of Arctic ice
in three years, Canadian officials announced.
Two floating islands of ice formed after the chunks broke from
the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf off Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic
Archipelago, officials said.
"The first broke off sometime around July 22 and the second
in the night of July 23 to 24," said a senior iceberg forecaster
for Environment Canada's Ice Service, Luc Desjardins.
Scientists confirmed the phenomenon in a fly-over of the first
mass of ice and by analysing the satellite data.
It was the largest breakup of an ice shelf in the Arctic since
the Ayles Ice Shelf broke off the Ellesmere Island coast in 2005
and formed a floating island of ice roughly the size of New York
Five vast ice shelves surround the north side of Ellesmere Island
in Canada's Nunavut Territory. Ward Hunt is considered the largest,
with a surface area of 443sqkm.
However, Arctic sea ice is unlikely to shrink below a 2007 record
low this year in a reprieve from the worst predictions of climate
change even though new evidence confirms a long-term thaw is under
way, experts said.
The record raised worries of a melt that could leave the North
Pole ice-free this year, threaten indigenous hunters and thaw ice
vital for creatures like polar bears.
It would also help open the Arctic to shipping and oil and gas
"Most likely there will not be a new record minimum ice year
in the Arctic this September. Arctic ice reaches an annual summer
low in September but is one million sqkm bigger than at the same
time in late July 2007." said the Nansen Environmental and
Remote Sensing Centre in west Norway.