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Canada's Last Fully Intact Ice Shelf In The Arctic Just Collapsed Into The Ocean

Ice, ice, bye-bye.
Trending Senior Staff Writer
Milne Ice Shelf Collapse Means There Are No More Fully Intact Ones In Canada

Into the Arctic Ocean it goes. The Milne Ice Shelf collapse means that there are no longer any fully intact formations like this in all of Canada. Even though it's broken up now, it's still one of the only few remaining shelves on Ellesmere Island.

The Milne Ice Shelf is located on Ellesmere Island in Nunavut but it has recently been significantly reduced in size because of a breakup.

The Canadian Ice Service shared images and a satellite animation on Twitter that show the shelf collapsing into the Arctic Ocean between the end of July and the beginning of August.

In the animation, you can see a chunk break off and drift away from the rest of the shelf between July 30 to August 4.

With the collapse, the Milne Ice Shelf's total area has been reduced by about 43%.

So it wasn't just a little section that broke off.

The service said in a tweet that the collapse created an ice island that's about 79 square kilometres in size.

This happened because of a combination of above-normal air temperatures, offshore winds and open water in front of the ice shelf which is part of the perfect recipe for a shelf breakup.

Luke Copland, a glaciologist at the University of Ottawa part of the research team studying the Milne Ice Shelf, told Reuters that with the 79 square kilometre chunk breaking off, the shelf basically disintegrated.

"Entire cities are that size. These are big pieces of ice," he said.

All of Canada's ice shelves can be found on the northwest coast of Ellesmere Island.

During the early 20th century, there was a large continuous 450-kilometre solid sheet along the island's northern coastline.

However, by the start of 2001, only six major frozen formations remained along the coast.

That was just one-tenth of the original shelf.

Heat is likely a factor in all this. The most northern inhabited place in Canada broke a 20-year heat record in June. 

Alert, Nunavut reached 18.8 C back on June 28 when the average temperature is usually around 5 C at that time of year.

Earlier in the year, a rare hole in the ozone formed over the arctic from Hudson Bay all the way to Siberia because of the polar vortex. It closed up in April.

    Lisa Belmonte
    Trending Senior Staff Writer
    Lisa Belmonte is a Senior Staff Writer for Narcity Canada’s Trending Desk focused on government of Canada jobs and is based in Ontario.
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