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Polar sea ice extent

Box 1: Ward Hunt Ice-shelf

Source: NASA and Earth Observatory

The Arctic’s largest ice-shelf is breaking up. The Ward Hunt Ice-shelf is a remnant of the compacted snow and ancient sea ice that extended along the northern shores of Ellesmere Island in Northern Canada until the early 20th century. Rising temperatures have reduced the original shelf into a number of smaller shelves, the largest of which was the Ward Hunt Ice-shelf on the northwest fringe of the island. Between 2000–2002, the Ward Hunt Ice-shelf began to crack and eventually broke in two. This Standard Beam Mode RADARSAT-1 image, which was acquired September 27, 2003, clearly shows a large crack dividing the ice-shelf in half. The crack runs from the Arctic Sea to the right of Ward Hunt Island and the bright white ice grounded there and back to the rougher, mountainous region.

Source: Earth Observatory 2003
Break-up of the Ward Hunt Ice-shelf.

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