Glciology: Huge ice break-off in Arctic

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Glciology: Huge ice break-off in Arctic
Glciology: Huge ice break-off in Arctic

Huge ice break-off in Arctic

Off Ellesmere Island in Canada, what is probably the largest ice floe in the Arctic in the last 25 years broke off and may endanger shipping and oil production in the Beaufort Sea in the summer.

The ripped body of ice is about 66 square kilometers in size - roughly the size of Manhattan - and apparently broke away from the ice shelf on the north coast of the Arctic island, which is around 800 kilometers from the North Pole, in the summer of 2005. Due to the remote location of the region, however, the new drift ice surface has only now been discovered using satellite images. The images analyzed first showed the 15-kilometre crack in the ice and then the moving ice, which moved a kilometer from shore in just one hour.

Luke Copland of the University of Ottawa, who discovered the fracture, does not rule out a link to climate change. The summer of 2005 was three degrees Celsius warmer than the normal average, and the periodic sea ice cover in the Arctic has reached historic lows. Sea ice typically blocks glaciers and permanent ice shelves, slowing their flow or decay, so its disappearance typically facilitates ice loss.

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