The origin of many ice islands is the Ward Hunt ice shelf on the north western side of Ellesmere Island
Ice islands are large, flat masses of ice that break away from ice shelves. In the Arctic, the source of these islands is the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf on northern Ellesmere Island. Ice islands are different from the pack ice that forms from seawater. Like icebergs, ice islands are largely composed of freshwater of glacial origin. There are an estimated 30 or 40 ice islands afloat on the Arctic Ocean at any one time. Ice islands vary in size from a few tens of metres in width to tens, or even hundreds, of square kilometres in area.