Rising temperatures transform coastline of Canada

As a combined result of global warming, Canada’s Serson Ice Shelf and the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf have diminished in size nearly 50 percent over the summer, making 2011 the second greatest melt on record.The shelves, which are thick floating platforms of ice, have been keeping glacial ice from melting into the ocean. Increasing winter temperatures have caused the shelves to melt at a rapid pace this past year, diminishing an environmental feature that has covered the country’s arctic region since before European settlers inhabited the North American continent. If the shelves melt completely and glacial ice makes its way onto the open ocean, they will pose a threat to offshore drilling facilities and shipping lines. Located on Canada’s Ellesmere Island, the melting of the shelves is having massive effects on the country’s coastline. The Serson Ice Shelf went from being 16 square miles in mass down to 10 square miles, and the second section of the mass from 13 to two square miles. The Ward Hunt Ice Shelf fared no better. It has mostly disintegrated into floating glaciers.

“It has dramatically broken apart in two separate areas and there’s nothing in between now but water,” Associate Geography professor at the University of Ottawa Luke Copeland said.“Since the end of July, pieces equaling one and a half times the size of Manhattan Island have broken off.”

It has been estimated that nearly 3 billion pounds of ice dissolved this past summer. One of the researchers working closely with Copeland on the recent activity, assistant professor at Carleton University Derek Mueller, was quoted in an MSNBC article. “This is our coastline changing,” he said. “These unique and massive geographical features that we consider to be part of the map of Canada are disappearing and they won’t come back.”

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