13 Apr 2010:
Canadian Ice Sheet
Is Melting Rapidly, Study Shows
One of the largest ice sheets in Canada’s high Arctic has been swiftly shrinking in recent decades as a result of warmer summers
, according to a new study. The 895-square-mile ice cap on Devon Island, an uninhabited island in Baffin Bay, has declined steadily since 1985, according to analysis by scientists at the University of Calgary. Because the remote Arctic area is essentially a desert, with minimal annual
S. Boon, L. Copland
Researchers collect data in 2008
precipitation, any increase of snow takes years to accumulate as glaciers and ice sheets, said Sarah Boon, lead author of the paper published in Arctic
, a journal of the university’s Arctic Institute of North America. As a result, the equilibrium of the environment is easily upset. The retreating ice exposes dark soil and gravel that absorb heat and increases melting along the cap’s edges and at lower altitudes, Boon said. And meltwater seeping to the bottom of the glacier is creating a slippery surface on which the glacier slides more easily than it would during colder conditions. While researchers say the trend began in 1985, a series of unusually warm summers from 2001 to 2008 accelerated the melting. One of the results, Boon said, is an increasing number of icebergs calving from outlet glaciers and slipping into the Arctic Ocean. The research is based on data collected by the Arctic Institute since 1961.
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
Yale Environment 360
articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia
, the online educational network. Visit the site.
Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
Tribal people and ranchers join together to stop a project that would haul coal across their Montana land. Watch the video.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
An aerial view of why Europe’s per capita carbon emissions are less than 50 percent of those in the U.S. View the photos.
Ugandan scientists monitor the impact of climate change on one of Africa’s most diverse forests and its extraordinary wildlife. Learn more.
video series looks at the staggering amount of food wasted in the U.S. – a problem with major human and environmental costs. Watch the video.
video goes onto the front lines with Colorado firefighters confronting deadly blazes fueled by a hotter, drier climate. Watch the video.
A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.