Canadian Arctic – New fractures in centuries-old ice shelf

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The last fully intact ice shelf on northern Ellesmere Island in Canada’s Arctic may soon be slipping away.

Ice shelves found in the island’s North are formed from sea ice and glacier ice and measure some 100 metres thick.

While other ice shelves nearby have long since broken up, the Milne ice shelf remained intact blocking the mouth of the Milne Fjord.

Cracks and fractures

But this year, scientists have noticed fractures to the Milne ice shelf that indicate it may be reaching the end of its life cycle.

“It’s become a maze or a network of many different crevasses which very much indicates that the ice shelf is reaching its structural integrity limit,” says Andrew Hamilton, a Ph.D candidate at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, who studies the Milne ice shelf.

“In the coming years it will most likely continue to break up and eventually float away as ice bergs or ice islands into the Arctic ocean.”

To find out more about what’s happening and what it can tell us about the changing North, I spoke to Andrew Hamilton about his findings.

To listen to our conversation, click here

Related Links: 

Ellesmere Island – Environmental Fluid Mechanics Research Group

Environmental Fluid Mechanics Research Group – University of British Columbia

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Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is a journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic circumpolar news project. At Eye on the Arctic, Eilís has produced documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the circumpolar world. Her documentary Bridging the Divide was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards. Eilís began reporting on the North in 2001. Her work as a reporter in Canada and the United States, and as TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China" has taken her to some of the world’s coldest regions including the Tibetan mountains, Greenland and Alaska; along with the Arctic regions of Canada, Russia, Norway and Iceland.

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