Two ice shelves that existed before Canada was settled by Europeans diminished significantly this northern summer, one nearly disappearing altogether, Canadian scientists say in newly published research.
The loss is important as a marker of global warming, returning the Canadian Arctic to conditions that date back thousands of years, scientists say.
Floating icebergs that have broken free as a result pose a risk to offshore oil facilities and potentially to shipping lanes.
The breaking apart of the ice shelves also reduces the environment that supports microbial life, and changes the look of Canada's coastline.
Luke Copland, an associate professor in the geography department at the University of Ottawa co-authored the research published on Carleton University's website.
He said the Serson Ice Shelf shrank from 205 square kilometers to two remnant sections five years ago, and was further diminished this past summer.