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Cryospheric and ecological changes along Canada’s northernmost coast: The Milne Ice Shelf break-up of 2020 

December 17, 2020 @ 11:30 - 13:30

SPEAKER:  Derek Mueller, Water and Ice Research Lab, Geography and Environmental Studies, Carleton University

BIO:  Derek Mueller is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies and co-director of the Water and Ice Research Laboratory at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. His research examines indicators and impacts of climate change in the cryosphere as well as the consequences of a warming climate on cryospheric systems such as ice shelves, glaciers, sea and lake ice. Dr. Mueller has worked at the northernmost coast of Canada since 2001 and is an expert on Arctic ice shelves and epishelf lakes. For more on his research see:  https://wirl.carleton.ca/ice/

TITLE:  Cryospheric and ecological changes along Canada’s northernmost coast: The Milne Ice Shelf break-up of 2020

ABSTRACT:  In late July 2020, a large rift formed across the Milne Ice Shelf and resulted in the calving of 43% of its surface area. The Milne Ice Shelf was the last remnant of the larger ‘Ellesmere Ice Shelf’ to undergo a major calving event.  This ice shelf was thicker and better protected than others in the Canadian High Arctic and it dammed the mouth of Milne Fiord creating a freshwater lake to its landward side.  This ‘epishelf lake’ has been monitored over time to reveal inter-annual and seasonal changes and hosts fresh and brackish water species directly on top of the Arctic Ocean.  The ice shelf itself is a cryo-habitat for microbial communities that live on its surface while a community of benthic animals was recently discovered within the ice shelf. The fate of these cryo-environments is unknown following the events of last summer, but the trend in habitat loss along this coast is undeniable.  The need to conserve this region and its vulnerable ice-dependent ecosystems is clear and efforts are underway to make a permanent marine protected area at these high latitudes.  This conservation effort should be optimized by extending protection both east and west in addition to incorporating the terrestrial environment that is closely interconnected with the Arctic Ocean along this coast.  However, global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions must be part of the solution to mitigate future cryo-habitat loss due to environmental change.

LOCATION:  Virtual presentation via Zoom.

TIME: Thursday, December 17, 11:45 AM

RSVP:  Meeting will take place on Zoom. Please register in advance for this meeting.


December 17, 2020
11:30 - 13:30
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