Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf like losing a good friend: glaciologist

Ice shelf collapses

A glaciologist says it was only a matter of time before Canada's last remaining intact ice shelf broke up.

The Canadian Ice Service posted satellite animation on Twitter last weekend showing the Milne Ice Shelf in Nunavut collapsing.

The calving event that started a week ago has reduced the shelf's size by 43 per cent to 106 square kilometres.

Derek Mueller, an associate professor at Carleton University, says the split was inevitable but it still felt like losing a good friend.

Mueller has made several trips to study the ice on Ellesmere Island since 2004 and has observed its gradual deterioration.

He says that while the Milne Ice Shelf kept its area until a week ago, it had developed worsening cracks and rifts over the years.

The COVID-19 pandemic prevented Mueller and his colleagues from visiting the Arctic this summer. They placed research instruments there last July and were planning on collecting them.

"And so we've lost not only the equipment, which is now drifting away in the Arctic Ocean, but also the information that it recorded over the time that it was out," Mueller said.

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