Canada’s last remaining, fully-intact ice-shelf collapsed considerably due to global warming, losing 40% of its mass by the end of July.
According to Reuters, the ice-shelf called the Milne Ice Shelf located in the fringe of Ellesmere Island lost nearly half of its mass in just two days, in Canada’s sparsely populated Nunavut territory.
The reasons for the massive collapse of the ice shelf, which is reportedly bigger than the island of Manhattan in New York are – “above normal air temperatures, offshore winds and open water in front of the ice shelf’ said the Canadian Ice Service said in a tweet.
Global warming is a significant threat in this century, perhaps the greatest of all the perils of climate change. It involves rising world temperatures beyond the usual levels owing to human-induced causes like reckless burning of fossil fuels, careless felling of trees and livestock farming among other regions.
“This was the largest remaining intact ice shelf, and it’s disintegrated, basically,” Luke Copland, a glaciologist at the University of Ottawa told Reuters, who was a part of the research team studying the particular ice shelf.
Things are heating up
The ice shelf that just lost to the ocean was roughly 80 sq km, in comparison Manhattan island is 60 sq km.
Global warmings are particularly dangerous to glaciers owing to a process called Arctic Amplification where rising temperature affects ice sheets twice faster than other areas.
While temperatures increase in the arctic during summer, this year has seen a 5-degree rise in the region, Coplan said, which is worst in 30-years average.
The continued endangering of the mega ice blocks are inadvertently putting the smaller ice block in danger since they don’t have enough mass to withstand the blow of rising temperatures.
Satellite imagery has already proved the above statement, Copland said. The smaller ice blocks melt and that exposes the bedrock which amplifies the warming process.
The fall of the Ellesmere Island meant doom for the northern hemisphere’s last known epishelf lake – a body of freshwater but unfortunately is lost to the ocean.
“When I was there in the 1980s I knew every square inch of those ice caps,” he said. “You have the memories. It’s like your first girlfriend,” Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder said.
This summer, Ellesmere Island lost two of its ice-selves which according to the researcher describe: “We saw them going, like someone with terminal cancer. It was only a matter of time.”
Two other ice-shelves in the region, called Murray and Simmons – are set to disappear in the coming 10 years; as harsh and insensitive it sounds, perhaps this is the truest narrative to describe the peril.