Arctic’s Biggest Ice Shelf Breaks Apart, Signaling Increased Warming

A 3,000-year-old ice shelf in the Arctic Ocean, the largest in the Northern Hemisphere, has broken into pieces over the past two years, highlighting significant warming trends, according to new research published in Geophysical Research Letters. Scientists said they couldn’t determine whether the melting was related to increased greenhouse-gas levels caused by human activity, but they said the disintegration of the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf was just one of many signs of huge climate shifts in the far northern reaches of the globe. “We believe that these events fit into a bigger picture of climate [warming] in the Arctic,” said Martin Jeffries of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, an author of the study. The ice shelf was the last big piece of a much more extensive shelf that once bordered the northern coast of Canada’s Ellesmere Island, the northernmost landmass in North America; that shelf has shrunk by more than 90 percent over the past 100 years.