December 31st, 2006

Ayles Ice Shelf cracks at the North Pole

Posted in Earth Agony by ed

Al Gore focused on the collapse of the Larsen ice shelf into the sea off Antartica in An Inconvenient Truth. I remember watching those photos, across that month in 2002, as the expert commentators reeled. It seems something similar is happening up north:

Ancient Ice Shelf Snaps, Breaks Free in Canadian Arctic

The Associated Press, December 28, 2006

TORONTO — 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 — 66 square kilometers (41 square miles) of it — broke clear 16 months ago from the coast of Ellesmere Island, about 800 kilometers (500 miles) south of the North Pole in the Canadian Arctic.

… “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.”

The ice shelf was one of six major shelves remaining in Canada’s Arctic. They are packed with ancient ice that is more than 3,000 years old. They float on the sea but are connected to land.

… Using U.S. and Canadian satellite images, as well as seismic data — the event registered on earthquake monitors 250 kilometers (155 miles) away — Copland discovered that the ice shelf collapsed in the early afternoon of Aug. 13, 2005.

… Copland said the speed with which climate change has effected the ice shelves has surprised scientists.

“Even 10 years ago scientists assumed that when global warming changes occur that it would happen gradually so that perhaps we expected these ice shelves just to melt away quite slowly,” he said.

aitposter.jpg How long, Adonai, how long?

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