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TitleIce masses of the eastern Canadian Arctic Archipelago
AuthorVan Wychen, W; Copland, L; Burgess, DORCID logo
SourceLandscapes and landforms of eastern Canada; by Slaymaker, O (ed.); Catto, N (ed.); World Geomorphological Landscapes 2020 p. 297-314, 13
Alt SeriesNatural Resources Canada, Contribution Series 20180237
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf
ProvinceNunavut; Northern offshore region
NTS15; 16; 25; 26; 27; 29; 36; 37; 38; 39; 47; 48; 49; 58; 59; 120; 340; 560
AreaCanadian Arctic Archipelago; Ellesmere Island; Axel Heiberg Island; Devon Island; Baffin Island; Bylot Island; Arctic Ocean; Baffin Bay
Lat/Long WENS -96.0000 -58.0000 84.0000 60.0000
Subjectssurficial geology/geomorphology; hydrogeology; environmental geology; Nature and Environment; Science and Technology; Transport; Economics and Industry; ice sheets; glaciers; icefields; ice conditions; ice islands; petroleum industry; ice flow; ice thickness; ArcticDEM; Ice caps; Shipping; Climate change; cumulative effects; elevations
Illustrationslocation maps; photographs; digital elevation models; profiles; geoscientific sketch maps; time series
ProgramGSC Atlantic Division
Released2020 02 14
AbstractThe islands of the Canadian Arctic, known as the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (CAA), contain the largest area of glacierized terrain outside of the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica. The ice masses are focused in the eastern part of the CAA, and stretch from the ice shelves of northernmost Ellesmere Island to glaciers in the southernmost parts of Baffin Island, together with a few mountain glaciers in northern Labrador. The majority of glacier ice (roughly 70%) is contained within the large ice masses located on Baffin Island (Penny and Barnes Ice Caps), Bylot Island (Bylot Island Ice Cap), Devon Island (Devon Ice Cap), Ellesmere Island (Prince of Wales Icefield, Manson Icefield, Sydkap Ice Cap, Agassiz Ice Cap, Northern Ellesmere Icefield) and Axel Heiberg Island (Steacie and Müller Ice Caps). The remaining ice is stored mainly in smaller ice caps and valley glaciers that skirt the coastline. The region’s major ice caps typically have maximum elevations around 2000 m asl and descend to sea level where outlet glaciers meet the ocean. Scientific studies of glaciers in the Canadian Arctic began in earnest in the 1950s, with previous knowledge largely gleaned from historical materials and expedition reports. Systematic in situ surface mass balance measurements initiated in the late 1950s and continue to present day, providing one of the longest continuous records of glacier mass balance within the Arctic. The Canadian Arctic also contains some of the very few remaining northern hemisphere ice shelves. Recent analysis indicates that since ~2000 these ice shelves have been undergoing significant reductions in their area and volume, often caused by episodic calving events that can produce ice islands with diameters of 10 km or more. Once detached, these ice islands can drift within the waters of the CAA and Arctic Ocean for years to decades and may pose a threat to Arctic shipping and offshore oil developments.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
Glaciers and ice caps in the Canadian Arctic exist primarily along the Arctic cordillera extending from southern Baffin Island to the north coast of Ellesmere Island where a few remnant ice shelves remain. Flow dynamics of glaciers across this region as mapped from RADARSAT (1 and 2) imagery indicate that many glaciers experience surge-type behavior which can result in significant (up to 500m a-1) inter-annual variations in flow speeds and amount of solid ice discharged as ice bergs to the ocean. In-situ glacier mass balance observations from reference glaciers distributed throughout the Queen Elizabeth Islands indicate a regional trend towards significantly negative mass balance since the early 1990s. Broad scale changes of glacier mass estimated from remote sensing methods reveal that glaciers and ice caps in the Canadian Arctic have recently emerged as the largest non-ice sheet contributors to global eustatic sea-level rise on the planet.

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