An Ice Shelf the Size of Manhattan

Google Earth photo

About 80 square kilometers of the Milne Ice Shelf broke away from the northern coast of Ellesmere Island on July 30 and 31, as shown in satellite images.  Ellesmere Island is located off the northwest coast of Greenland and is part of Canada’s Nunavut Territory. Although the calving of ice shelves contribute little to sea-level rise because they are in the water before they break apart, they act as dams by preventing glacial ice from advancing to the sea.  Consequently, their break-ups will contribute to future sea-levl rise. In the meantime, the fresh water they release reduces ocean salinity, thus affecting marine life. Floating ice shelves further break-up and pose a risk to maritime shipping.

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