Melting Ice Caps The Arctic is global warming’s canary in the coal mine. It is a highly sensitive area which is profoundly affected by the changing climate. The average temperature in the Arctic is rising twice as fast as elsewhere in the world (nrdc. org). Because of this, the ice cap is getting thinner, melting away, and rupturing. Here is an example of this; the largest ice block in the Arctic, the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf, had been around for 3000 years before it started cracking in 2000 (nrdc. org) By 2002, the Ward Hunt has cracked completely through and had started breaking into smaller pieces.
The melting ice caps are affecting the earth and its inhabitants in many ways. In this paper, the following concepts and subjects will be discussed: the polar regions and how they are affected by the melting ice caps, the rising ocean levels and how they are a result of the ice caps, and a way in which we are trying to create a major breakthrough that will help to stop or limit the melting of the ice caps. The history of the ice caps is a long and complicated one. The ice caps are located in the polar regions of the world.
When these ice caps melt, however, it affects the whole world in some way or another. Some research, however, indicates that the expanding and contracting of the ice caps are just a natural cycle that they go through every 60 to 80 years (ff. org). During the Ice Age, it is speculated that melting ice caps contributed to the earth being sent into the Ice Age (washingtonpost. com). During this age in which human beings worry about everything in this world from economics to wardrobe possibilities, it is just natural that the melting ice caps are an issue on everyone’s mind.
Is it possible that this issue is just being grossly miscalculated, or should this issue be utilized as much as possible? Many believe that the melting ice caps are just a common occurrence that happens naturally. Others, however, believe that it is a serious issue now that has to be confronted right now. Either way, it would not hurt to take some precautions now to try to stop or prolong the melting of the ice caps. Generations before us did not take this measure, but maybe our generation should. The melting ice caps are having a dramatic affect on the polar regions of the earth.
For example, the average temperature in the Arctic is rising twice as fast than the rest of the world (nrdc. org). The once prominent ice is now melting at a dramatic speed, which is affecting native people, wildlife, and plants. When the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf splintered, the freshwater lake that it surrounded drained into the ocean, along with the ecosystem that inhabited it. Polar bears, whales, walrus and seals are changing their feeding and migration patterns, making it harder for native people to hunt them (nrdc. org). Because of the flooding, entire villages will be uprooted order to avoid being swamped.
Also, the Arctic coastlines are beginning to move as well. The melting ice caps are threatening the native peoples’ cultural identity and their very survival. Ice-dependant animals, such as walruses and ring seals will be greatly affected by the melting ice caps (treehugger. com). They have fewer places to rest on, as well as fewer places to hunt. If the ice caps keep melting, their lives will become in great danger. The melting ice caps are not only affecting the Polar Regions, but they are also affecting the rest of the world as well in the form of rising ocean levels.
Melting ice caps are contributing to rising ocean levels as well. Rising seas would severely impact the United States. For example, scientists project as much as a 3-foot ocean-level rise by 2100 (nrdc. org). According to a 2001 U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study, this increase would inundate some 22,400 square miles of land along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States, primarily in North Caroline, Texas, Louisiana, and Florida (nrdc. org). Melting ice caps would not only cause rising water levels, but would also mean a warmer Arctic temperature as well.
A warmer Arctic will also affect weather patterns and thus food production around the world. Wheat farming in Kansas, for example, would be profoundly affected by the loss of ice cover in the Arctic. According to a NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies computer model, Kansas would be 4 degrees warmer in the winter without Arctic ice, which normally creates cold air masses that frequently slide southward into the United States. Warmer winters are bad news for wheat farmers, who need freezing temperatures to grow winter wheat.
In summer, warmer days would rob Kansas soil of 10 percent of its moisture, drying out valuable cropland (nrdc. org). The biggest contributing factor to the melting ice caps is global warming. So, in order to stop of slow down the melting of the ice caps, we would have to take steps to stop global warming (washingtonpost. com). Global warming is caused by heat-trapping gases called green house gases. These gases are produced when we burn fossil fuels like oil, coal, and gas. A step to help stop global warming would be to save energy (washingtonpost. com).
Ways to do that would be to find an alternate source for energy that is cleaner then burning fossil fuels. In today’s world, we have solar panels and windmills that create energy. Despite this, they are not a great alternative to fossil fuels because they are not very efficient. They do not create as much energy as burning fossil fuels does. Some other ways of cutting down on greenhouse gasses are creating cars that run cleaner and burn less gas, modernized power plants, and building air conditioners, refrigerators, and whole buildings that are energy efficient (washingtonpost. om). There are many solutions to solve global warming and stop the melting of the ice caps, but putting these plans into effect and transitioning to the alternative sources of energy and will be a challenge that everyone will have to face in order to eliminate these enormous problems that are affecting the globe. There is no doubt that the ice caps are shrinking in size because of their melting. The size of the ice caps has been documented and it is clear they are not the same size as they once were.
Even though there is evidence that the ice caps are melting, this does not necessarily mean that they are having or are going to have a dramatic effect on this earth. Some scientists have determined that the expanding and contracting of the ice caps is just a natural phase that they go through. I believe that, even though the ice caps are melting, they will not have a dramatic effect on the earth. There is evidence that this event has occurred before, and humanity survived it.
There might be some minor results of the melting ice caps, but none so significant that it would threaten man kind. Whether you believe that the melting ice caps are going to be a global issue or not in the future, it would not hurt to “go green” and start to invest in eco-friendly alternatives to burning fossil fuels. It will not hurt to help the environment a little bit even if you do not believe it is in danger. Will the melting ice caps affect our generation or that of our children? That is a question, like many other global questions, that will be debated for years to come.