Giant Cracks Appearing in Arctic Ice

2035958758_d8277d8a1d At a time when renewed focus is being shone on the Arctic and its ice-levels, the Canadian Military has made a disturbing discovery; a discovery that, too many, is continued evidence of the shocking break-up of the Arctic ice-cap.

The Canadian military recently made what it called a “sovereignty patrol” of its Arctic territory. Joined by scientists, they found major new fractures far in to Canada’s claimed Arctic region. The team found a network of cracks that stretch for more than 10 miles on Ward Hunt, the region’s largest ice-shelf.

“I was astonished to see these new cracks.It means the ice shelf is disintegrating, the pieces are pinned together like a jigsaw but could float away,” Dr Derek Mueller of Trent University, Ontario, explained.

The future of these giant ice-shelves is seen as key indicators of climate change.

Dr Luke Copland of the University of Ottawa agrees, noting that the new cracks fit in to a continuing pattern of change in the Arctic. “We’re seeing very dramatic changes,” he said, “from the retreat of the glaciers, to the melting of the sea ice. We had 23% less (sea ice) last year than we’ve ever had, and what’s happening to the ice shelves is part of that picture.”

Not surprisingly, this new discovery will take a backseat to the more publically popular sea-ice extent, which last summer saw the full opening of the Northwest Passage. And though the maximum extent of the sea-ice this winter just passed was greater than the year before, it was still well below the long-term average. In addition, it has left behind very young ice, ice that is not going to withstand much in the way of temperature battering.

Photo credit: dsearls at Flickr under a Creative Commons license


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