Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ice break ominous, Arctic scientist says

Toronto Star: A scientist on board the Amundsen research icebreaker near the Beaufort Sea says the ice shelf that broke apart last week is another sign that the Arctic has reached a tipping point in climate change. Two blocks that broke away from the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf near the northern coast of Ellesmere Island are simply the latest loss in the Arctic's rapidly disappearing mass of thick, ancient ice, said Gary Stern, chief scientist on board the Amundsen Coast Guard vessel.

"When I hear what happened, I am not surprised," Stern said by satellite telephone. "The rate we are losing ice is phenomenal. This (climate change) is real," he said. "I think a lot of people don't understand how fast things are changing up here." Stern, a University of Manitoba professor, is leading a major research project – part of the International Polar Year – examining climate change and the loss of sea ice in the Arctic.

…"In November, the Amundsen actually went up to the northwestern side of Banks Island and into McClure Strait. That is the real Northwest Passage. It is almost never open – even in the summer. “The fact that it is open in November is phenomenal. I don't care what anybody says, (the problem) is man-made and we have to deal with it now."….

….Ice shelves can break up for various reasons, not always climate change, Mueller said. It is the lack of new ice forming that shows that global warming is afoot. "There are only five of these ice shelves left," Mueller said. "They are retreating and they are not coming back."...

Brent Glacier (Osborn Range), on Ellesmere Island in Nunavut, Canada, flowing down to Tanquary Fjord, with a view on the opposite side of the Mount Kennedy Icecap. Photo by Ansgar Walk, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 Unported License

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