The Milne ice shelf on the northwest coast of Ellesmere Island in Nunavut, Canada, has disintegrated, splitting into two large pieces and drifting large blocks of ice in the Arctic Ocean. Already between 30 and 31 July this year there was a first fracture of this huge four-thousand-year-old ice shelf, when the 187 km2 slab had broken into two parts, one 106 km2 and another 81 m2: now the latter has further broken into two pieces (55 km2 and 24 km2) together with numerous smaller icebergs. It is precisely the rising temperatures, of course, that are at the root of the platform breakage: so far, summer in the Canadian Arctic has averaged 5 degrees higher than in the last 30 years.
The Milne ice shelf was the last of the Canadian ice shelves to break, recalls Carleton University: at the beginning of the 20th century there was a single 8,600 km2 ice shelf in the Canadian Arctic that stretched along the northern coast of the island of Ellesmere. In 2000, the block was divided into 6 large ice platforms and several smaller platforms occupying a total area of 1,050 km2. The island of Ellesmere has witnessed major ice shelf breaking events in 2003, 2005, 2008, 2011 and 2012. The Milne ice shelf was considered one of the least vulnerable to breakage as it is well protected at Milne Fiord, but has suffered many fractures in recent years. (source: lifegate.it)
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