Scientists studying satellite imagery from the Canadian Arctic have just discovered that the Ayles Ice Shelf broke free of Ellesmere Island sixteen months ago.

In an AP story running widely this morning, Warwick Vincent of Laval University said: “This is a dramatic and disturbing event. It shows that we are losing remarkable features of the Canadian North that have been in place for many thousands of years. We are crossing climate thresholds, and these may signal the onset of accelerated change ahead.”

Scientists noted that the shelf had traveled about thirty miles before freezing into the sea ice. They expressed concern that the spring thaw could lead to the drifting of the ice shelf into shipping lanes.

Two small pieces of good news in this bit. First, the ice was already floating (but attached), so that there is no effect on sea level from this disaster. Second, this story is running fairly widely in the US this morning, suggesting that either the US media is starting to pay attention to climate in a serious way, or that its a really slow news day. Or both.