The breaking up of the Canadian Ice Shelves, witnessed first by the Green Cross Pax Arctica ’08 expedition in July with the break off of a chunk of the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf, has continued, leading to a 23% loss of the Canadian Ice Shelves.
New cracks running into the western half of the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf. Photo courtesy of Denis Sarrazin, ArcticNet/Centre d’Etudes Nordiques.
The international coalition of children exploring the high Arctic as The Young Ambassadors of the Arctic witnessed the first 20 square kilometers break off of the Ward Hunt Island main ice shelf, which was later followed by an additional 22 km2 large piece. In addition to the break-up of the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf, two large sections have detached from the Serson Ice Shelf and the entire 50 mk2 Ice Shelf broke away in early August.
The total ice shelf loss during the summer comes to 214 square kilometers, which is more than three times the size of Manhattan Island, making the future of the ice shelves rather bleak. “Reduced sea ice conditions and unusually high air temperatures have facilitated the ice shelf losses this summer” explained Dr. Luke Copland, Director of the Laboratory for Cryospheric Research at the University of Ottawa. “And extensive new cracks across remaining parts of the largest remaining ice shelf, the Ward Hunt, mean that it will continue to disintegrate in the coming years”.
Pax Arctica is a multi-year mission to study and educate the public about the effects of climate change to the Arctic. Pax Arctica is a joint effort by Green Cross International, its US affiliate Global Green, and Sagax Expeditions.