An ancient ice shelf has cracked off northern Ellesmere Island, creating an enormous 66-square-kilometre ice island and leaving a trail of icy blocks in its wake.
“It really is incredible,” said Warwick Vincent of Universite Laval, one of the few people to have laid eyes on the scene. “It’s like a cruise missile has come down and hit the ice shelf.”
The breakup was so powerful, earthquake monitors 250 kilometres away picked up the tremors as the 3,000- to 4,500-year-old shelf tore away from its fjord on Ellesmere.
It broke up 16 months ago, but no one was present to see it. The scientists say they are only now making public details after piecing together what occurred using seismic monitors and Canadian and U.S. satellites.
They say the ice shelf collapse, suspected to have been caused by global warming, is the biggest in Canada in 30 years and is indicative of the transformation under way on Ellesmere, Canada’s most northern land mass.
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