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Melting of Canadian Arctic ice sheet accelerating, study finds

Belcher-glacier

The Devon Island ice cap, which sprawls over more than 5,500 square miles in the Arctic latitudes of Canada, has been shrinking at an increasing rate since 1985, an analysis of nearly 50 years of data concludes.

The melting, believed to have been caused by warmer summers, could affect shipping and overall sea levels, as more icebergs calf into the sea, according to the paper published in the March edition of Arctic, published by the University of Calgary's Arctic Institute of North America. Previous studies have noted a similar shrinking.

"We've been seeing more mass loss since 1985," said Sarah Boon, lead author on the paper and a geography professor at the University of Lethbridge.

Changes to Arctic ice and snow cover are not easily compensated, as the region experiences very little precipitation. Excessive warming is upsetting that balance, researchers warned. A recent remote-sensing study showed that the first decade of the 21st century included four unusually warm summers: 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2008, according to the data. 

"What we see during these warm summers is the extent of the melt is greater," Boon said.

The melt exposes darker ground that absorbs more solar radiation, helping to accelerate the melting at the cap's periphery. Calving from outlet glaciers has increased, potentially creating more obstacles to shipping, the authors said.

The paper adds to a growing volume of studies suggesting that man-made greenhouse gases are warming Earth, setting off widespread changes in climate.

Accelerated melting of the much larger Greenland ice sheet has been well chronicled.

-- Geoff Mohan

Photo: Belcher Glacier, a principal outlet glacier on the Devon Island ice cap. Credit: University of Alberta

 
Comments () | Archives (6)

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Chris Ryan you foolish, silly man. The Arctic sea ice has increased by 22-million sq. kms. over the past 2 years? That's remarkable given the total area of the Arctic Ocean is but 14-million sq. kms.

You cling to the ridiculous notion that the theory of global warming embraced by every national academy of science in the Western world and the overwhelming majority of climate scientists is a hoax. Think that one through. Scientists are about the worst bunch for keeping secrets and yet you claim that's exactly what they've done and they've kept it absolutely to themselves for years? Big Oil and Big Coal have been powerless to expose this fraud?

Chris you really need to read more.

Thanks for this article and sharing what's going on with the environment.

Oops... sorry .. my comment below was aimed at the one about the Climategate scientists being cleared by another panel.

This article does not mention any dates beyond 2008. It is interesting that arctic sea ice has rebounded to 2001 levels (about average for the last 100 years or so). I wonder what effect the winter of 2009/2010, one of the coldest in recent years in the arctic, has had on Devon Island's ice pack....

Maybe we will see some new pictures sometime soon.

Oh ... and by the by... the arctic sea ice minima have increased by 22,000,000 square kilometers in the last 2 years...

More AGW hype is all I am seeing here.

Exactly as I expected... Another whitewash. With Lord Oxburgh in the chair it was a foregone conclusion. If you add in the other members of the panel and look at their sources of income, there could have been no other result from this sham of an inquiry.

The vast majority of the panel members have vested interests in the "green economy" that is fueled by the AGW nonsense.

Even the US DOE says that anthropogenic CO2 is responsible for just 0.117% of the greenhouse effect. Water vapour, on the other hand, is responsible for 95.000% and of that, 99.999% is NATURALLY occurring.

In other words, folks, you have been sold a bill of goods for the last 30 years. In my opinion, you can thank Greenpeace and the WWF for robbing you blind.

Don't expect to see any more reports such as this one. Canada's current Prime Minister Stephen Harper- a climate change denier has just shut down all Canadian government sponsored arctic climate research to ensure no more pesky reports such as this one. Reports such these cause embarrassment and call into question his government's unflinching support of the dirtiest fossil fuel project on plant Earth- the Alberta TAR Sands.

This is a wonderful article and thank you for sharing.


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