Ice cave or englacial melt channel. This ice cave was formed by meltwater flowing within the glacier ice. The photo was taken in the Belcher Glacier, on Devon Island, Nunavut, Canada.

Liquefying Glaciers


This serene Arctic scene belies the scary truth: The Arctic ice is melting faster than anyone knew, and the glaciers on the Canadian archipelago have already melted enough water to fill three-quarters of Lake Erie and raise the level of the world's oceans by a millimeter planetwide, a study in the journal Nature April 22 found.

Between 2004 and 2006, the first three years of the study, the region lost an average of seven cubic miles of water per year, Discovery News reported. From 2006 through 2009 that jumped to 22 cubic miles of water per year.

“This is a big response to a small change in climate,” University of Michigan researcher Alex Gardner, who headed the study, told Discovery News. “If the warming continues and we start to see similar responses in other glaciated regions, I would say it’s worrisome, but right now we just don’t know if it will continue.”

The ice in this part of Canada is drawing increased international attention, and teams from NASA, Europe and Canada will be monitoring the Canadian ice cap on Devon Island closely over the next few weeks, glaciologist and study so-author Martin Sharp of the University of Alberta told Postmedia News.

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