Examining Arctic Ice Shelves Prior to the 2008 Breakup

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Abstract

The last time researchers stood on the surface of the Serson Ice Shelf, at the northern end of Ellesmere Island, Canada, it was a chilly 26°C April day in 2008. On a relatively warm 8°C day 3 months later, the ice shelf began to break apart and within 3 weeks lost 122 square kilometers (60%) of its area. This past summer, Ellesmere's 50-square-kilometer Markham Ice Shelf also broke away, and there was major fracturing throughout the eastern half and well into the western half of the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf, which is the largest remaining ice shelf in the Northern Hemisphere.

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