Aug 7, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Global warming breaks Canada's last intact ice shelf

A view above Ellesmere Island, Canada, in 2017.
A view above Ellesmere Island, Canada, in 2017.

Canada's only ice shelf broke apart due to a hot summer and climate change, the AP reports.

Why it matters: Ice shelves are between hundreds and thousands of years old and bulkier than long-term sea ice. Their disappearance from Canada showcases how the Arctic has warmed faster than the rest of globe.

What they're saying: “There aren’t very many ice shelves around the Arctic anymore,” University of Ottawa glaciology professor Luke Copland told the AP.

  • “It seems we’ve lost pretty much all of them from northern Greenland and the Russian Arctic. There may be a few in a few protected fjords.”

By the numbers: Temperatures in the region have been 9 degrees warmer than the 1980-2010 average from May to early August, Copland said.

The big picture: The shelf, located on the northwestern boundary of Ellesmere Island, broke into two large icebergs that started drifting away. One is the size of Manhattan.

Go deeper: The rising seas global warming has already locked in

Go deeper