Arctic Ice Island and Ice Shelf Studies: Part II

  • A.P. Crary
Keywords: Driftwood, Dust, Heat budgets, Heat transmission, Growth, Ice islands, Ice shelves, Mollusks, Ocean currents, Puddles, Radiocarbon dating, Recent epoch, Salinity, Sea water, Snow, Stress, Temperature, Thermal regimes, Thickness, Topography, Velocity, Winds, Arctic Ocean, Ellesmere Island, Nunavut


Discusses possible conditions north of 80 N. under which thick floating ice can form, and outlines the possible history of the Ward Hunt (Ellesmere) Ice Shelf and the ice island T-3. General surface features are explained, and the possible future of these ice masses is discussed. Factors conductive to growth and ablation of perennial ice are considered. Combinations of surface conditions and heat from the ocean waters that limit the ice thickness are determined theoretically. General ice conditions in the high Arctic indicate little surface change over many centuries. Evidence of several age determinations suggests that T-3 may be older than the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf. Most of the 80 ice islands located in the bays and inlets of the Canadian Arctic Islands, where many have grounded and melted. Two ice islands have continued drifting past the Pole and into the Greenland Sea, and two have circled the western Arctic Basin again. The arctic areas are believed to be as open and the ice as thin as at any time in the past three thousand years, and the ice shelves may become extinct.