published on 20 August 2020 in water

Higher than average temperatures split the Milne ice shelf

The Milne ice shelf on the north-west coast of Ellesmere Island in Nunavut, Canada, broke up into two large blocks due to temperatures 5°C higher than average. The first large split created in this 4-thousand-year-old platform was detected between 30 and 31 July. The 187 square kilometre platform broke into two parts, one 106 square kilometres and the other 81 square kilometres: now the latter has further split into two sections (55 square kilometres and 24 square kilometres) along with several smaller icebergs, leaving large blocks of ice drifting in the Arctic Ocean.

The break-up of the Milne ice shelf. Credits: NOAA

At the beginning of the 20th century, a single 8,600 square kilometre ice shelf stretched along the northern coast of Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic. The Milne ice platform was considered to be one of the least vulnerable to break-up as it is well protected at Milne Fiord, but since 2000 it has suffered numerous splits, dividing into six large ice platforms and several smaller ones occupying a total area of 1,050 square kilometres.

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