Manhattan-sized Ice Shelf Breaks Off Of Canada

The polar bears aren't going to like this...

In another "Day After Tomorrow"-worthy portent of climate-change doom, an ice shelf the size of Manhattan just broke off of Canada's Ellesmere Island. It now lies adrift in the Arctic Ocean.

The Markham Ice Shelf, located on the northern side of Ellesmere, is 19-square miles in size, and provides an important habitat for the microbial life that lives at the bottom of the Arctic food chain. While it's dwarfed by similar ice shelf breakages — namely the 160-square-mile Wilkins ice shelf, which seceded from Antarctica in 2005 — it still serves as a powerful reminder of the rapid changes brought on by sudden climate change.

"There are so many major changes, it almost boggles the mind when you look at how fast this region is changing," said Derek Mueller, who studies the ice shelves at Trent University in Toronto. "We're entering into a new reality if this keeps continuing."

Presumably, this new reality will include no polar bears, catastrophic storms, and the streets of Manhattan underwater. At least that last one sounds fun, if you've got a jet ski.

— Ted Alvarez

The Arctic's "New Reality": Another Ice Shelf Collapses (Wired)