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Large segment of Arctic ice shelf shatters in record temperatures

A large segment of an Arctic ice shelf has shattered into small pieces, which scientists say is further evidence of rapid climate change in the region.

The Spalte Glacier on the Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden ice shelf has broken away into small pieces. Source: Copernicus Data / ESA / Sentinel-2B

79N, or Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden, is the largest remaining ice shelf in the Arctic, in north-east Greenland, the BBC reports.

But new satellite images show a massive chunk of it, the Spalte Glacier, has recently broken away and shattered into small pieces.

"The atmosphere in this region has warmed by about 3C since 1980. And in 2019 and 2020, it saw record summer temperatures," polar researcher Dr Jenny Turton told BBC News.

The ice shelf is a floating chunk of ice attached to the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream.

It splits in two at its leading edge, which is where the Spalte Glacier has broken off, according to the BBC.