As predicted, two Canadian ice caps have completely melted

According to a recent snapshot from NASA, two ice caps in Nunavut have fully disappeared. Scientists predicted this would happen.

In 1982, then graduate student Mark Serreze, visited the St. Patrick Bay ice caps in Nunavut. Now Professor Serreze, who teaches at the University of Colorado Boulder, only has his former documentation of the ice caps to refer to, because as he predicted, they have melted.

Ice cap

Credit: Ray Bradley

Perhaps a dramatic way to begin this report, but according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), it's human activity that caused the demise of these ice caps.

In 1959, NASA captured satellite images of the ice caps. The size of the larger one was about double the size of Central Park in New York.

In 2015, NASA captured another image of the ice caps, but by then, they were only five per cent of their former area.

So in 2017, Professor Serreze predicted that they would both be gone within five years. And as of recently, Nasa's Terra satellite confirmed that they are both completely gone.

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Ice caps

Credit: Bruce Raup, NSIDC

The St. Patrick Bay ice caps were on the Hazen Plateau with Murray and Simmons ice caps. They were likely formed during the Little Ice Age. Though Murray and Simmons are still present, scientists predict they'll not going to last much longer.

Ice caps are made from years and years (and centuries and centuries) of layers. Each layer captures particles from the time they were created. There is so much to study within an ice cap.

Reflecting on his first visit to the ice caps, Professor Serreze said "they seemed like such a permanent fixture of the landscape," and "to watch them die in less than 40 years just blows me away."

Professor Serreze also shared that "We've long known that as climate change takes hold, the effects would be especially pronounced in the Arctic," adding "But the death of those two little caps that I once knew so well has made climate change very personal. All that's left are some photographs and a lot of memories."