NEARLY eight square miles of the Arctic ice shelf has broken free from the north Canadian course, a development that will alarm those fearful of the consequences of global warming.
The Ward Hunt shelf has split away from Ellesmere Island, according to satellite pictures. Scientists fear further splitting could occur during the summer melt, with the polar north once again seeing a rapid ice retreat this year.
Scientists who had accompanied the Canadian armed forces on a recent visit to the area discovered major new fractures in the ice that stretched for more than 10 miles.
Ellesmere Island was once bounded by one giant ice shelf that covered almost 3,500 sq miles. Now this expanse of ice has retreated into a string of much smaller, individual shelves, which together cover just under 400 sq miles.