• Christine Stevens

Obituary: Milne, last fully intact Arctic Ice Shelf

The Milne Ice Shelf, the last fully intact Arctic Ice Shelf in Canada, passed from this world on July 30 or 31, 2020 when it calved into several large icebergs which are currently dissolving into the warming waters of the Arctic Ocean.

A native of Ellesmere Island, The Milne Ice Shelf lived their entire life in the Canadian Arctic.

Believed to have formed over 4,000 years ago, Milne was home to arctic wildlife as well as a fresh water lake that perished simultaneous to Milne’s collapse. Always a big presence, Milne was estimated to be over 72 sq. miles at their time of death.

Well known for their support of a wide variety of mammal and marine life over the course of their existence, they were a diverse ecosystem that included polar bears as well as scallops and anemones.

Death was due to ‘polar amplification’ a condition brought on by 30 years of atmospheric and aquatic warming occurring at twice the global rate and a particularly warm summer with temperatures 9 degrees above normal. It’s thought that a series of forest fires in the arctic and that one 104 degree day in Siberia last June may have also contributed to their demise.

Dr. Gordon Hudstetter, a glaciologist at Carleton University and a close acquaintance of ‘The Milne’ (as they were affectionately known), noted “This is a tragic loss and will have worldwide implications. I mean it. World. Wide."

The Milne is survived by the Murray and Simmons Ice shelves, who are afflicted with the same condition and are predicted to suffer a similar fate within the next 10 years.

There will be no calling hours, no service, no celebration of life, no period of mourning, no flags lowered, no flaming arrows shot out to those wandering icebergs, due to the current pandemic.

But let’s be honest, it’s mostly because humans are busy mourning the loss of college football season and the threat of losing Tik Tok.

In lieu of flowers, donations to honor the memory of The Milne can made to whatever wildlife, conservation or climate action organization you think has a chance in hell of waking people up to OUR imminent demise. You might try The Coalition for Rain Forest Nations, Clean Air Task Force, Sandbag or The Climate Emergency Fund.

by Christine Stevens

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