The ice caps of St. Patrick Bay on the Hazen Plateau of the northeastern island of Ellesmere in Nunavut, Canada, have disappeared, according to NASA satellite imagery. Scientists and colleagues of the National Snow and Ice Center (NSIDC) predicted through a paper for 2017 in cryosphere that the ice caps would melt completely within the next five years, and recent images from NASA Advanced Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) have confirmed that this prediction was correct.
Mark Serreze, director of NSIDC, Honorary Professor of Geography at the University of Colorado Boulder, and lead author on paper, first set foot on the ice caps of St. Louis. Patrick Bay in 1982 as a young graduate student. He visited the ice caps with his advisor, Ray Bradley, of the University of Massachusetts.
“When I first visited those ice caps, they looked like a permanent fixation of the landscape,” Serreze said. “To watch them die in less than 40 years just blows me away.”
In 2017, scientists compared ASTER satellite data from July 2015 with vertical aerial photographs taken in August 1959. They found that between 1959 and 2015, ice caps had shrunk to only five percent of their previous area, and shrank significantly between 2014 and 2015 in response to particularly warm summer in 2015. Ice caps are missing from ASTER images taken on July 14, 2020.
The St. Patrick Bay ice caps were half of a group of small ice caps on the Hazen Plateau, which formed and are likely to reach their maximum extensions during the Little Ice Age, probably several centuries ago. The Murray and Simmons ice caps, which make up the second half of the Hazen Plateau ice caps, are located at a higher altitude and are therefore far better, although scientists predict their destruction is imminent as well.
“We have known for a long time that while climate change will be taken into account, the effects would be particularly pronounced in the Arctic,” Serreze said. “But the death of those two lids that I once knew so well has made climate change very personal. All that is left are some photos and lots of memories.”
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Mark C. Serreze et al. Rapid loss of ice caps of Hazen Plateau, northeastern island of Ellesmere, Nunavut, Canada, cryosphere (2,017). DOI: 10.5194 / tc-11-169-2017
Provided by the University of Colorado at Boulder
citation: Canadian ice caps disappear, confirming 2017 scientific forecast (2020, July 31), retrieved July 31, 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2020-07-canadian-ice-caps-sledgeledge.html
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