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    Repiglican Roast

    A spirited discussion of public policy and current issues

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    I'm furious about my squandered nation.

    Sunday, May 25, 2008

    Vast cracks appear in Arctic ice

    Scientists travelling with the troops found major new fractures during an assessment of the state of giant ice shelves in Canada's far north.

    The team found a network of cracks that stretched for more than 10 miles (16km) on Ward Hunt, the area's largest shelf.

    The fate of the vast ice blocks is seen as a key indicator of climate change.
    One of the expedition's scientists, Derek Mueller of Trent University, Ontario, told me: "I was astonished to see these new cracks.

    "It means the ice shelf is disintegrating, the pieces are pinned together like a jigsaw but could float away," Dr Mueller explained.

    According to another scientist on the expedition, Dr Luke Copland of the University of Ottawa, the new cracks fit into a pattern of change in the Arctic.

    "We're seeing very dramatic changes; from the retreat of the glaciers, to the melting of the sea ice.

    "We had 23% less (sea ice) last year than we've ever had, and what's happening to the ice shelves is part of that picture."

    When ice shelves break apart, they drift offshore into the ocean as "ice islands", transforming the very geography of the coastline.

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