Canadian glacial melt suggests global warming is speeding up

A Canadian ice study found that Arctic glaciers are melting far more quickly than in years past. The researchers cite the findings as evidence that global warming is picking up pace.
By Rick Docksai | Dec 05, 2018
Glaciers in Canada are melting even more quickly than they used to, says a new study. Its authors warn that it could be a sign that warming trends across the globe are picking up pace.

The study, published in the Journal of Glaciology, found extensive ice loss in 1,350 out of nearly 1,800 glaciers along Ellesmere Island in Canada's High Arctic between 1999 and 2015. Nor did the researchers find any growth in any remaining glaciers.

The region's ice shrinkage added up to around 1,050 square miles of lost ice, or 6% of the region's entire ice shelf, according to the researchers. They attributed it to a recorded rise of roughly 3 degrees Fahrenheit in the region's temperature average.


The long-term warming also means that once the glaciers melt, they will not re-accumulate, according to Adrienne White, University of Ottawa glaciologist and the study's lead author. Instead, she said, they break up into myriad smaller icebergs and drift away. White described seeing a steady increase in iceberg formations around the island since 2000.


"We see a lot more icebergs," said White. "Where there was one continuous ice shelf, we now see individual icebergs broken up, we see a lot more crevasses."

Ice loss has been occurring in the region for decades, the study states, noting that previous surveys found 588 square miles of ice shrinkage between 1959 and 2000. But the 1,050 square-mile ice loss post-2000 is nearly double the melting in roughly one-third of the time, White and colleagues pointed out.

This recorded Arctic ice loss coincides with other studies finding accelerating melting in the Earth's far south, as well. In 2017, researchers found that a group of Antarctic glaciers had lost three times as much ice over four years as they had in previous four-year intervals.


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