Huge chunk breaks off Arctic ice shelf; 2008 Arctic melt not likely to break record
A 1.5-mile ice chunk broke off the Arctic’s largest remaining ice shelf last week. The Ward Hunt Ice Shelf in northern Canada has been thinning gradually since the 1950s, so the break-off was predictable but still relatively significant. “Once you unleash this process by cracking the ice shelf in multiple spots, of course we’re going to see this continuing,” said researcher Derek Mueller. “It’s like a bar of soap. If you use the soap over and over again, it gets thinner and thinner. Then all of a sudden, it could break.” In other Arctic news, researchers say this summer’s sea-ice melt is unlikely to break last year’s record that opened up the Northwest Passage and generally astounded Arctic experts. The sea ice won’t technically hit its lowest point until September, but barring any surprises, 2007’s melt record will remain intact. “It’s looking rather unlikely that we will beat the record sea ice minimum of 2007,” said Mark Serreze of the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center. “The North Pole is likely safe for at least this year.” Won’t the kids be thrilled?