18 June, 2014
The Canary in the Gold Mine…
The Ice Caps are like the canary in the gold mine… It will tell you when it’s time to start worrying about Global Warming.
In the last 100 years, the world’s global temperature increased by ½ degree Celsius. What’s the big deal? On a global scale, it’s not easy to make the temperature rise or fall. It’s not the same as a country or a smaller geo experiencing changes in temperatures. The little Ice Age between 1350 and 1850 was brought about by a 2 degree drop in temperature. Degrees are a big thing when we’re talking about the whole planet.
More: Temperature Changes Due to Global Warming
Here are some Ice Cap melting facts that you might find interesting and alarming:
- Antarctica at the South Pole has about 90% of the world’s ice (70% of it is fresh water, our global supply). The ice covering is around 7,000 feet thick. It extends to almost 14 million square kilometers – about the size of the U.S.A and Mexico combined. If all this ice melted, the sea will rise by 200 feet!
- The North Pole is covered by a floating pack of ice, located just over the Arctic Ocean. This ice melts and freezes with the changing of the seasons. The ice that doesn’t melt can reach up to 3 to 4 meters thick. If this melted, our sea levels will not be affected.
- The Greenland ice sheet measures around 650,000 square miles. If all this ice melted, the sea will rise by 20 feet.
- In the last 100 years, the Environmental Protection Agency reported that the sea level has risen by 6 to 8 inches.
More: Global Warming Temperature Change
- Most major cities are in low lying coastal areas. They will be inundated when sea levels rise more than six feet.
- 80% of the sunlight that strikes the polar caps is reflected back out of our atmosphere. Without the ice caps, that amount of heat will be absorbed by our oceans and will cause ocean temperatures to rise. Warmer ocean temperatures will mean more frequent and more intense weather events.
- The Ward Hunt Ice Shelf, the largest single block of ice in the Arctic, started cracking in the year 2000. This shelf, which has been around for the last 3000 years, has split all the way and is now breaking into little pieces.
- According to NASA, the polar ice caps are melting at an alarming rate of 9% per decade. The thickness of the Arctic Ice has decreased by 40% since the 1960s.
- According to scientists at the U.S Center for Atmospheric Research, if the current rate of global temperature rise continues, the Arctic will be free of Ice by 2040.
- The IPCC predicts that sea levels could rise by 10 to 23 inches by 2100.
Are we powerless to stop it?
The effects of the Ice Caps melting are too devastating to contemplate. What can we do about such a big event? Should we tell our children to live in the mountains where they can be safe? Can we really even influence the melting of the planet’s ice caps?
Actually, we did have something to do with it. Our activities for the past 100 years have affected our environment and we are seeing the effects now. If we were able to affect it negatively, we can also make a positive change and stop global warming - if we all did something about it.
More: How to Reduce Our Ecological Footprint
Our environmental problems today didn’t happen overnight and we will not see the results of the changes we make overnight. You might think that your small contribution will be fruitless, but it will have an effect eventually… and it will be magnified a thousand fold if you can spread the awareness and encourage people to do their share.
Read more about how you can help save our environment and create a better future for our children’s children. Go to The World Counts: Stories
- NSIDC: Quick Facts on Ice Sheets
- NRDC: Global Warming Puts the Arctic on Thin Ice
- eHow.com: Ice Caps Melting Facts
- Wikipedia: Polar Ice Cap