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This Shelf Could Hold a Lot of Stuff!

An "ice shelf" is a floating ice sheet of considerable thickness that is attached to the coast. It usually extends far out over the water - which gives it a gently undulating surface.

The shelf is nourished by snow falling on the top, water freezing at the bottom, and often also by the seaward extension of land glaciers. The seaward edge is termed an "ice front" and new icebergs can break away, or "calve", from the front of the shelf.

Lying along the northern coast of Ellesmere Island in northern Canada, the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf is the biggest ice shelf in the Arctic. This vast region of ancient ice floating on the water is however, starting to break apart.

Comparisions with the early 20th-century records of Arctic explorer Robert Peary show that there was much more ice than today. It is estimated that the ice has now retreated by about 90% since Peary made his observations.

Retreating ice shelves may provide indications of climate change and the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf breakup comes at the same time as news of increased melting of sea ice in the Northern Hemisphere.

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Library: Arctic, Glaciers, Icebergs, Snow, Ice
Links: Ward Hunt Ice Shelf
Arctic, Glaciers, Icebergs, Environment
Arctic Maps & Weather Reports
News Story: "Warning Signs in the Arctic"


Double-click any unlinked word DICTIONARY: Just "double-click" any unlinked word on this page for the definition from Merriam-Webster's Student Electronic Dictionary at Word Central.
Arctic Library ARCTIC LIBRARY & GLOSSARY: Check this section for an index of the rest of the things you really need to know about the Arctic.
All sorts of Arctic Maps ARCTIC MAPS & WEATHER REPORTS: Maps of the Northwest Passage, explorers' routes, iceberg sources, Nunavut, the Arctic by treeline, temperature...
Links to related sites. ARCTIC LINKS: Even more information! Links to sites related to the Arctic and "Iceberg: the Story of the Throps and the Squallhoots".
A Guide to Arctic Sunrise and Sunset GUIDE TO ARCTIC SUNRISE & SUNSET: How much sunlight or darkness is there in the Arctic on each day of the year?

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