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With the global warming causing severe changes in the weather around the globe, the effect it has on the Arctic is quite dramatic lately too. The temperatures there as well as everywhere are rising and the scary forecasts are that there will be no more ice left in the Arctic Ocean in the 2030’s.
Even though it has been normal for some ice melting to occur during the warm summer season, the shrinking per decade has reached 13%, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
There is already a global rise in the temperatures, stronger storms and draughts which are lasting longer, desertification and increased acidification of the oceans. The melting of the ice in the Arctic will also affect the climate and all of our lives. Here is why:
- The Arctic ice reflects the sunlight
The lower latitude is the main reason for the colder temperatures on the poles, but so is the fact that most of the direct sunlight there gets reflected directly back. This albedo causes limited heat absorption and keeps both poles cold. Now, the lesser the ice, the lesser it reflects back the sunlight and thus increased temperatures and melting.
- The influence the ice has on the ocean currents
Both the air and the oceans are constantly circulating the heat and looking for balance. This happens by the normal air circulation as well as the thermohaline circulation (THC). The melting ice affects both processes, and causes an overall increase of the global temperature, and it changes the normal wind patterns which cause pushing more ice to the Atlantic Ocean.
- The ice helps insulate the air
The Arctic Ocean is cold, but the air in the Arctic is even colder in the winter. The ice is actually like insulation and keeps the warmer temperature of the ocean from warming the air. This is another reason for the cold temperatures on the poles. Now that the Arctic ice is melting intensively, more het gets released.
- The ice keeps the methane safely away
The Arctic tundra and sediments have very large deposits of methane which is frozen and is safe at its current state. But if these deposits are released they could pose a serious greenhouse gas climate risk.
- The ice helps curb severe weather
It helps prevent longer and stronger storms in the Arctic with bigger waves which can pose bigger dangers.
- The ice supports the native people and wildlife
Living and hunting is more dangerous and difficult on melting ice, so the people are moving out and to higher grounds. Also, the melting of the ice threatens the survival not only of the polar bears, but arctic seals, walruses, whales and all marine life as well.