Homeglobal warmingPolar ice cap melting: causes and effects

Polar ice cap melting: causes and effects

The of the polar ice cap melting is an urgent reality. To understand the seriousness of the issue, we can say that, well, if the Titanic had happened today, Jack might never have needed to save Rose.

Polar melt: definition

The melting of the polar ice caps is the dispersion of large volumes of frozen water present in the polar regions of planet Earth.

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A phenomenon that has occurred in recent decades and that is directly related to global warming.

And it is no theory, to those who still insist on denying climate change. Because of global warming, the melting of the polar ice caps is visually verified. We can already see several giant icebergs forming from the melting polar ice caps.

Why are the glaciers melting?

Many people don’t know, but the Arctic’s temperature increase is three times faster than in other regions of the planet.

This is because of global warming itself. When the Arctic ice was intact, it reflected about 85% of the sun’s radiation back into space.

The more the ice melts, the less reflective capacity it has. What happens is that water has a great potential for heat accumulation, and in the open ocean, the ocean absorbs 90% of the solar radiation, making the water warmer and therefore melting more ice.

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Studies from previous years stated that the rate of temperature increase in the Arctic was 2.5 times faster than the rest of the planet Earth, but a recent Danish study proves that the situation is worse than imagined: the figure is closer to 4 times than 2.

What are the causes of the melting polar ice caps?

Carbon footprint

The accumulation of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere are among the main reasons for melting glaciers.

The release of CO2 has its source in transportation, deforestation, burning of fossil fuels, unsustainable habits coming from the most diverse industries, among other human activities.

Ocean warming

The oceans are getting warmer. Water molecules are great conductors of heat, which leads us to a frightening fact: the oceans are capable of absorbing 90% of the Earth’s heat, as well as part of the CO2 in the atmosphere.

This causes the melting process of the sea glaciers to accelerate.

As a consequence, polar areas and the coastal regions of Alaska (United States) are among the regions that suffer most from rising water temperatures.

Effects of melting polar ice caps

Sea level rise

One of the big problems of the melting polar ice caps is the rise in sea levels. This phenomenon is already causing the sea to invade coastal cities.

Some more pessimistic scientists claim that if nothing is done, many islands and coastal cities may disappear from the map (become submerged).

Some scientists disagree about the relationship between melting glaciers and global warming. Thus, this phenomenon still needs more in-depth and conclusive studies.

Decrease in available fresh water

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When the fresh water accumulated in polar glaciers is released into the sea, the problem becomes even more worrying for humans.

The decrease in these stocks of drinking water reduces our water capacity – already affected by the altered rainfall cycle of climate change. Without drinking water, we cannot survive. But let’s say that for some time there is no complete lack of water, only rationed.

In this case we can prepare for a new wave of world hunger, because we will not have enough water resources for farming, considering a population of 8 billion people that can no longer provide food security equally among the 191 recognized countries in the world today.

How glaciers are formed

Do you wanna build a snowman? 

These large moving masses of ice originate from the compaction and recrystallization of snow that has accumulated for hundreds of thousands of years in cold places.

This is the case, for example, with mountain glaciers and polar glaciers, which should not be confused with the gigantic Arctic plates.

The formation of a glacier is an age-old process and its size varies according to how much ice it can accumulate during its existence.

In total, glaciers cover 10% of the Earth’s surface and, together with ice caps, make up almost 70% of the planet’s fresh water.

Polar ice cap melting projections

The projections regarding the melting of the polar ice caps are not very positive. As is already common sense, the goal of the Paris Agreement is to contain global warming in the coming decades to 1.5°C.

This is no longer a very likely scenario, considering the pace of CO2 emissions of the major nations responsible for the climate crises.

The most realistic projection at the moment is a 2°C increase in global temperature.

In any case, the continent that would suffer most is Asia (but not exclusively).

China, India, and Indonesia are among the countries most at risk of severe flooding, but no country is completely safe.

In the United States, according to a recent survey by Climate Central and Zillow, cities like Boston, Jersey City, St. Petersburg, Miami, and Hollywood have high risks of flooding, causing a strong wave of forced migration in several populations, as well as inevitable fatalities.

graphic showing global warming speed from 1880 to 2015, which is a major factor for polar ice cap melting

Time-lapse of polar ice cap melting

A few years ago, NASA released this scary time-lapse video of the melting polar ice caps.

In the first 15 seconds of the video, you can see a comparison between the amount of ice in the Arctic in 1984 and in 2016.

The damage done in just over 30 years is gigantic, and according to some NASA studies, the Arctic is losing its bulwark (or defensive barrier) against summers.

What if the glaciers on planet Earth melt?

According to the short film posted by Riddle on YouTube, winter 2019-2020 broke records for warm days.

The days with the highest temperatures were higher than in any measurement since monitoring began 130 years ago.

Temperatures have risen by only 0.5°C in the last 100 years, but this has been enough to cause the oceans to rise by 20cm.

Remember that 90 percent of the world’s fresh water is in Antarctica, which measures about 120,000 square kilometers (46,300 miles).

If the frozen continent were to melt its main glacier, the rise in sea level would be about 61 meters, which would be enough to cause irreparable environmental disasters, such as the disappearance of islands (like the Maldives) and the entire state of Florida.

In South America, countries like Uruguay could simply disappear. In Europe, Venice.

With the increase in global temperature (aggravated by melting ice), several countries in Africa may simply become a desert uninhabitable for humans.

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