The chunks broke off from the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf on the coast of Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago to form new floating islands. According to a report in the Telegraph, together the two islands cover an area of seven square miles and marked the biggest break up of the ice for three years. The scientists said that the split was almost certainly caused by the warming climate, which is affecting polar regions more than anywhere else. Scientists confirmed the break up by flying over the scene and by analysing satellite data.
The north side of Ellesmere Island in Canada's Nunavut territory is surrounded by plateaus of thick and floating ice believed to be thousands of years old with the largest - Ward Hunt - covering 171 square miles.
"We ascertained that in the 20th century 90 percent of the ice surface area (in the region) has been lost," said Derek Mueller, a Polar specialist at Canada's Trent University. "So, this phenomena has been ongoing on for a long time, but we're now seeing punctuated events," he added.
According to Mueller, the Petersen Ice Shelf, which lost a third of its surface area between 2005 and 2007, was a good example.
The break-up of ice, known as calving, is regarded by scientists as being symptomatic of the warming of polar areas.