Canadian ice shelf larger than Manhattan collapses into the sea

(CNN)The size of Canada's last fully intact ice shelf was reduced by 43% over July 30 and 31 when the Milne Ice Shelf on Ellesmere Island in the northern territory of Nunavut collapsed into the ocean.

This large sheet of ice then drifted into the Arctic Sea, further breaking into two large chunks. This entire calving event -- the scientific term for the breaking of ice chunks off glaciers -- was captured by the Copernicus Sentinel satellite.
The piece that broke off was around 80 square kilometers -- larger than the 60-square-kilometer Manhattan.
    "Above-normal air temperatures, offshore winds and open water in front of the ice shelf are all part of the recipe for ice shelf break up," according to the Canadian Ice Service.
    "Due to the presence of pre-existing fractures in the remaining Milne Ice Shelf, there is a potential for further destabilization," the Water and Ice Research Laboratory (WIRL) said in a press release on August 7. The ice shelf is still unstable and further ice breaks are possible in the coming days and weeks, WIRL warned.
    A research site on the ice shelf was razed during this collapse.
    "It is lucky that we were not on the ice shelf when this happened, our camp area and instruments were all destroyed in this event," said Derek Mueller, professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Carleton University in a blog post on August 2.
    Mueller and his team have visited Milne Ice Shelf numerous times, but the trip this year was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
    Looking north along a rift in the Milne Ice shelf. This rift is still intact but the ice shelf broke away along a smaller one to the west (left) in July 2020.
    The last known epishelf lake in the Arctic could be gone because of the ice shelf break. An epishelf lake is a body of freshwater trapped by an ice shelf that floats on top of ocean water.
    When the Milne Ice Shelf collapsed, it potentially sent once-contained freshwater into the salty waters of the Arctic Ocean. Researchers are unsure about the extent of this damage "as this depends on the integrity of the remaining part of the Milne Ice Self."
    Meltwater lakes form every summer in depressions on the Milne Ice Shelf.