A giant ice shelf has snapped free from an island south of the North Pole, scientists said Thursday, citing climate change as a ''major'' reason for the event. The Ayles Ice Shelf -- all 41 square miles of it -- broke clear 16 months ago from the coast of Ellesmere Island, about 500 miles south of the North Pole in the Canadian Arctic.More here.
Scientists discovered the event by using satellite imagery. Within one hour of breaking free, the shelf had formed as a new ice island, leaving a trail of icy boulders floating in its wake.
Warwick Vincent of Laval University, who studies Arctic conditions, traveled to the newly formed ice island and couldn't believe what he saw.
''This is a dramatic and disturbing event. It shows that we are losing remarkable features of the Canadian North that have been in place for many thousands of years,'' Vincent said. ''We are crossing climate thresholds, and these may signal the onset of accelerated change ahead.''
An ancient ice shelf has cracked off northern Ellesmere Island, creating an enormous, 66-square-kilometre ice island and leaving a trail of icy blocks in its wake.
''It really is incredible,'' says Warwick Vincent of Laval University, one of the few people to have laid eyes on the scene. ''It's like a cruise missile has come down and hit the ice shelf.''
The breakup was so powerful, earthquake monitors 250 kilometres away picked up the tremors as the 3,000 to 4,500 year-old shelf tore away from its fjord on Ellesmere.