Friday, September 5, 2008

Canada loses ancient ice shelf

A huge expanse of ancient ice shelf in Canada's northern Arctic has broken away in a dramatic indication of how warmer temperatures are changing the polar frontier, scientists have said.

The 50km, 4,500-year-old Markham ice shelf separated in early August and is now adrift in the Artic Ocean, Derek Mueller, an Arctic specialist at Trent University in Ontario, said.

Researchers say warm air temperatures and reduced sea-ice conditions in the region aggravated the break-up.

Muller said: "The Markham ice shelf was a big surprise because it suddenly disappeared.

"We went under cloud during our research and when the weather cleared up, all of a sudden there was no more ice shelf."

He said: "It was a shocking event that underscores the rapidity of changes taking place in the Arctic.

"These changes are irreversible under the present climate."
From Al Jazeera 
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