Climate warming ‘live’...

Published on 07.05.2008 - 2008 Ellesmere Island Expedition

Will Steger's team has arrived in the north of Ellesmere Island. This was to be one of the highlights of their journey – and they were in no way disappointed.

On 25th April, Toby Thorleifsson wrote in his diary: "Today we arrived at the foot of what remains of the Ayles Ice Shelf. It was rewarding to see the smoking gun of global warming first hand from close up..."

This was, in fact, one of the main aims of this expedition. To understand why, we need to go back in time three years. On 13th August 2005, a huge section of the Ayles Ice Shelf broke off into the Arctic Ocean. The resulting island of ice was trapped in the winter pack-ice off the western coast of Ellesmere Island. At the time, this massive block of ice covered an area of approximately 66 square kilometres and was the largest chunk of ice shelf to break away in the Canadian Arctic for 30 years. The Ayles Ice Shelf was thought to be as much as 4500 years old. For more detailed information about this historic event, see the "Environment Canada" website. Will Steger and his crew stayed on site for a number of days to try and understand what happened in 2005 and to carry out all the scientific readings required for further study.

Before going back down to Resolute Bay, the team has headed for Eureka Sound and another ice shelf, the Ward Ice Shelf or Ward Hunt Ice Shelf, which broke up into several pieces (gigantic chunks of ice by all accounts) during the summer of 2002. Another amazing sight to witness lies ahead of them.

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