Canada's Arctic ice shelves, formations that date back thousands of years, have been almost halved in size over the last six years, Canadian researchers said on Tuesday.
Researchers at Carleton University in Ottawa, who regularly analyze satellite images from the region, also found that a major portion of the ice shelves split in half this summer and other pieces covering an area roughly one and a half times that of Manhattan have broken off since the end of July.
Consistently higher temperatures in Canada's Arctic, the researchers said, were the main cause of the dramatic decline.
"It's fascinating to bear witness to this as a scientist but it also saddens me as a general citizen of the planet to see this happen," said Derek Mueller, a professor at the university's school of geography and environmental studies. "We've seen this on timescale of six years yet these ice shelves are thought to have been in place for thousands of years."