Researchers say that with temperatures rising in Canada’s high Arctic, hundreds of glaciers are shrinking and many could soon vanish.
They used satellite imagery to study 1,773 glaciers on Ellesmere Island, the most northerly island in the Arctic Archipelago, and found that from 1999 to 2015, 1,353 shrank significantly, and a few disappeared completely. “What we found is a loss of three complete ice shelves,” Adrienne White, a glaciologist at the University of Ottawa, told The Guardian. “In terms of glaciers that terminate on land, we’ve lost three small ice caps.” From 1948 to 2016, the annual average temperature in northern Ellesmere Island increased by 6.48 degrees Fahrenheit, one of the fastest rates of anywhere on Earth.
White said none of the glaciers are showing any signs of growing, and when they “break away, all of a sudden there’s nothing holding back these ecosystems that have been growing and developing for thousands of years. And they’re gone before we even have the chance to study them.” Catherine Garcia