Giant fractures have been spotted via satellite imagery of an area West of the Beaufort sea. The Canadian Ice Service monitors glaciers for any signs of environmental damage or change. The fractures have occurred between December of '07 and January of '08 have caused concern among scientists. The fractures are very large and can be viewed in satellite image animations available at the Environment Canada website.
The fractures are more than 100 kilometers across and have occurred in a matter of weeks. "This melting phenomenon may be tied to the loss of the Arctic ice last summer that "stunned" scientists as the ice retreated 40 percent below normal to the lowest level since satellite measurements began in 1979."
According to David Berber, a climate specialist at the University of Manitoba, the ice isn't the only thing that's changing in the Arctic, the storm tracks are also changing as as weather systems are drawn in over the open water. If this ice melt trend continues, scientists predict the Arctic could be ice free in the summer months by 2020, plus or minus 10 years. "That means Arctic summer ice, which has capped the planet for more than a million years, might be gone by 2010, says Barber."
"The implications extend far beyond the Arctic, and the possibility of shipping routes opening in the North. Weather across the Northern Hemisphere is impacted by what happens in the Arctic and the northern ice plays a critical role in controlling Earth's thermostat. Arctic ice reflects close to the 95 per cent of solar radiation that hits it. Once the ice melts away, seawater absorbs the heat instead, later releasing it back to the atmosphere, a process that will speed global warming."