Canadian Arctic – New fractures in centuries-old ice shelf

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

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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