This large sheet of ice then drifted into the Arctic Sea, further breaking into two large chunks. This entire calving event — the scientific term for the breaking of ice chunks off glaciers — was captured by the Copernicus Sentinel satellite.
The piece that broke off was around 80 square kilometers — larger than the 60-square-kilometer Manhattan.
“Above-normal air temperatures, offshore winds and open water in front of the ice shelf are all part of the recipe for ice shelf break up,” according to the Canadian Ice Service.
A research site on the ice shelf was razed during this collapse.
Mueller and his team have visited Milne Ice Shelf numerous times, but the trip this year was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
When the Milne Ice Shelf collapsed, it potentially sent once-contained freshwater into the salty waters of the Arctic Ocean. Researchers are unsure about the extent of this damage “as this depends on the integrity of the remaining part of the Milne Ice Self.”
Ice shelves like these can help limit global sea level rise by acting like a dam, slowing the flow of melting ice and water into the oceans. These large calving events can also create hazards for the shipping industry by creating essentially large icebergs floating across the northern oceans.
This is not the first time this year that the Canadian Arctic has lost significant ice features.