"Massive and Disturbing" Ice Shelf Changes on Ellesmere Island: 83 Square Miles Lost This Summer

ice shelf melting summer 2008 map image

image: BBC/D Mueller/Trent University

The past two weeks have not been good for the Arctic and climate change: First, scientists discover that permafrost holds more greenhouse gases than we thought; Second, sea ice melt-off is at its second greatest amount ever and could set a new record by summer's end; Third, new research confirms that the past decade has indeed been the warmest since the Romans occupied Britain, and the trend is for more warming. Cheery stuff.

Ice Loss 10 Times What Was Predicted
Here's another reason to believe we must redouble our efforts to reduce global carbon emissions to slow global warming: Derek Mueller, an Arctic idea shelf specialist at Trent University in Ontario has told Reuters that 83 square miles of ice shelf, an area more than three times the size of the island of Manhattan, has been lost from Ellesmere Island this summer. This is 10 times the amount which scientists had predicted would be lost as recently as July 30. The most recent piece to break away was the 19 square mile Markham Ice Shelf, which has now become floating sea ice. The nearby Serson Ice Shelf has been reduced in size by 60% this summer due to 47 square miles breaking away.

Stable Arctic Climate Conditions No Longer Present
These changes were described as "massive and disturbing" by the director of the Center for Northern Studies at Laval University in Quebec.

Dr Luke Copland of the University of Ottawa was quoted by the BBC:

Reduced sea-ice conditions and unusually high air temperatures have facilitated the ice shelf losses this summer. And extensive new cracks across remaining parts of the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf [TH note: near the former Markham Ice Shelf] mean that it will continue to disintegrate in the coming years.

via :: BBC News and :: Reuters
Climate Change
60% More Greenhouse Gases Trapped in Permafrost Than Previously Thought
Melting Arctic Ice Increases Permafrost Thaw Farther Inland Than Previously Thought
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