Quttinirpaaq National Park (formerly Ellesmere Island National Park) is a national park of Canada. Located on the northeastern corner of Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, the most northerly extent of Canada, it is the most northerly park on Earth. The park was established in 1988, but remains in a reserve status while land claim issues are being resolved. The land here is dominated by rock and ice. It is a polar desert with very little annual precipitation and many of the glaciers here are remnants from the last episode of glaciation. The reserve covers nearly 38,000 square kilometers, making it the second largest park in Canada. Some wildlife, including arctic hares, caribou, and musk oxen live in the park, but sparse vegetation and low temperatures support only small populations.
Much of the highlands of the reserve accumulate snow that typically does not melt in the summer, but instead compacts into ice and flows down glaciers and into the Arctic Ocean. In many instances, this occurs in the form of land-based glaciers, which terminate before reaching water, with ice melting into lakes or streams as it drains away. Glaciologists can monitor these glaciers for signs that their ends (termini) are retreating, a possible indicator of regional climate warming. In other instances, the glaciers reach the sea and flow out over the water, breaking apart as icebergs. Such glaciers are known as tidewater glaciers. In these glaciers, the terminus can retreat suddenly and may not reflect short-term regional climate change. Their movement is driven by complex processes related to the thickness of the ice and the depth of the water.