The last untouched ice shelf in the Canadian north lost almost half of its surface and crashed into the sea.
»Above-average air temperatures, winds near the coast and the effects of the open sea are the recipe for breaking the ice sheet,« the Canadian Ice Service commented on the event on Twitter.
Satellite animation, from July 30 to August 4, shows the collapse of the last fully intact #iceshelf in #Canada. The Milne Ice Shelf, located on #EllesmereIsland in #Nunavut, has now reduced in area by ~43%. #MilneIceIsland #seaice #Arctic #earthrightnow #glacier pic.twitter.com/jjs1gawoxA
— ECCC Canadian Ice Service (@ECCC_CIS) August 4, 2020
Unfortunately, the news is not unexpected. The Arctic, the area between the North Pole and the North Circle, has also been hit by a heatwave this summer and is ravaged by numerous forest fires.
In the Siberian city of Verkhoyansk, the lowest temperature in the northern hemisphere, -68° Celsius, was measured in 1892.
On June 20 this year, a record temperature was recorded in the coldest inhabited place in the world so far: 38° Celsius. That’s as much as 18 degrees more than the highest average June daily temperature.
In July there was the smallest amount of Artic sea ice for the last 40 years. The permafrost has been warming twice as fast as the global average for the past 30 years. Rising temperatures are melting Arctic sea ice. The resulting open water absorbs even more sunlight, further warming the Arctic. And the vicious cycle is closed.
But it’s not just mighty ice sheets and glaciers that are melting, permafrost is melting – permanently frozen soils that contain viruses and bacteria that are up to a hundred thousand years old. What would happen if the causes of some old infectious diseases thawed? Scientists are paying close attention to this problem during the new coronavirus pandemic.
»Bacteria can survive for a long time, this is a fact accepted in scientific circles. The question is just how long. A million years? Five hundred thousand years? Fifty thousand years?« writes virologist Jean Michel Claverie for Unearthed.
If it goes on like this, there will be no more ice in the Arctic in 2050.
Points to Consider
- Do you know why huge icebergs can swim in the sea?
- How do high temperatures in the Arctic influence the animal world?
- Do we have glaciers in Slovenia?
The original version of this article was published on August 13th.