Arctic ice melting. Rising temperatures are causing the arctic ice to melt, having detrimental consequences.

How much of the Arctic ice melts every year? What are the consequences?

In the last decade, almost 9% of the arctic ice has melted. That may not seem like a great deal but because the arctic ice controls the earth’s temperature, that could throw off our entire ecosystem. According to NASA, “Satellite data collected from 1981 to 2001 show that some regions are warming faster than 2.5 degrees Celsius per decade.” Decades ago, scientists weren’t worried about the melting ice because it wasn’t happening. The ice would melt in the summer, but always come back in the winter whether it be the same about as before if not more. Because of our living habits, we have produced an excessive amount of carbon dioxide that is destroying our atmosphere and allowing greenhouse gases. The United States Environmental Protection Agency informs us, “Carbon dioxide accounts for most of the nation’s emissions and most of the increase since 1990”. Our cars, houses, and materials we use everyday produce so much carbon dioxide, all the while we are cutting down forests and trees, just so we can make room for more buildings and cities to go up. Our earth can not keep up with all of the pollution we produce. Unless we change our ways, the arctic ice will continue to melt and our earth’s temperature will continue to rise and heat up affecting all organisms on earth.

If we change our living habits, will we ever be able to reverse the damage we have caused on arctic ice?

Our living habits have brought major damage upon our earth. The earth’s temperatures and climate have been the most affected. Cars are a major factor in the pollution going on, “The average carbon dioxide emissions per passenger vehicle per year is 4.75 metric tons” according to the researchers at NASA. If we multiply that number by how many cars are on the road, that number is astounding. The earth can’t keep up with our demand to have to newest materials. Our houses, cars, and factories are producing much more pollution than that of those in the days early on. According to Andrea Thompson “because it takes longer for the ice to freeze, with the ice melting at the rate it is, for the time it has, it would take decades if not centuries for the ice to even come close to being what it once was.” The ice controls the earth’s temperature, and if that is affected, everything else is throw off guard. The sea becomes warmer, the animals start to die, and the cycle continues until nothing is left. Us humans depend so greatly on our land and its resources so if that is taken from us, or anything changes, it’ll be much harder for us as humans to survive such a dramatic change. So unless we make a dramatic change to how our society lives, there won’t be any positive change to our earth.

How will the ecosystem be affected once the ice is gone? How will it affect the creatures that depend on the ice to survive?

Once the ice is gone, it will be almost impossible to be what we once were. Animals will be affected, the climate will change, and the earth as a whole will be completely changed. The oceans will rise and cover land, islands and continents, submerged under water. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “in the last 100 years the sea level has risen about 6 to 8 inches”. Because our economy is advancing so quickly, our newest and latest materials, cars and houses, are producing much more pollution than ever before. If the oceans rise and cover our land, then houses, roads, and businesses will be ruined. The homes of animals will be completely destroyed. We as humans and animals, will lose the land that separates our lives, which could cause us to be on top of one another. Polar bears are being impacted the most. They depend on the ice for food, shelter, and even though they can swim up to 100 miles, their young can’t swim that far and eventually the adults get tired which usually ends in them drowning. ACIA informed us that, “loss of polar bears is likely to have significant and rapid consequences for the ecosystems that they currently occupy.” Because they are the at the top of the food chain, if they disappear, the rest of the chain will have great consequences. Species will overpopulate and not have enough resources to survive. The ice is home to hundreds of species and when gone, the entire ecosystem will crumble.

What are the efforts people are putting forth to try and help the problem? Are they working?

Humans are capable of destroying our earth, but are they capable of reversing the damages they’ve caused? We tear down hundreds of thousands of trees a year; most of them never being given a replacement. Millions of cars are produced year and most of them being more efficient but still producing harmful chemicals that are tearing apart our ozone. People donate money everyday towards funds to help stop cancer but not many are donating money towards saving our earth. According to Polar Bears International, “changing your home and work, transportation, and social interactions, are easy and fast ways to help prevent our ice from melting”. Walking or biking to work or stores that are close to you cuts down on the gases that cars produce and the demand for fuel. Most of the fuel we dig for comes from the rainforests. Deforestation is the result of this. As states before, when we cut down trees, bad chemicals aren’t being taken in and turned into oxygen for us to breathe; in addition to animals not having homes. Many people are fighting to stop others from cutting down the trees using protesting to try and stop. Others prefer to be heard by going through the government directly. Vlademir Cunha states, “In the United States, laws like the Endangered Species Act, the Wilderness Act, the Lacey Act and the Roadless Rule help protect our forests”. As long as people know that there is a problem, there will be someone out there who wants change and will follow through with their plan to help fix whats happening. There is money being raised but not enough to help stop the problem from growing. With people still driving around and using planes as ways of transportation, then deforestation will continue. With the efforts to inform people about our dangerous lifestyle, hopefully one day our arctic ice will be what it once was.

How does one to travel to the arctic in order to study the ice?

Most researchers travel to the destination that they are studying. Satellites are a big help to them, but actually going there in person for oneself is the best form for obtaining the most accurate information. Iceland is just south of the arctic, which means that it is easier than traveling from far. Most travel by small plane that allows usually three people and just enough room for the research equipment. NSIDC gives us a few examples of what they do, “digging snow pits to examine the properties of snow, or measuring the thickness of sea ice by hand to determine how the ice cover is changing”. Nowadays there are cruises for people who want to just pass through for a few days and enjoy the wildlife. Most of the people on the cruises are families wanting to spend some quality time together. There are a few boats for fishermen that want catch a meal as well as the native community that lives up there and has access. Arctic Studies Center tells us, “many of the hunters that go to the arctic are poachers. They are damaging the circle of life and need to be stopped.” There are many ways to travel to the arctic, but most suggest that small plane or boat are your safest and best option.

Glossary-

Migration- A movement from one area or region to another.

Abundance- a large amount or quantity of something.

Consequences- punishments or result of an action or condition

Deforestation- significant loss or cutting down of trees/forests

Ozone- a colorless unstable toxic gas with a pungent odor and powerful oxidizing properties, formed from oxygen by electrical discharges or ultraviolet light. It differs from normal oxygen in having three atoms in its molecule.

Ecosystem- a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment.

Credits:

Created with images by tpsdave - "arctic ocean sea water" • girlart39 - "mountains ice bergs antarctica" • Unsplash - "arctic ice floating iceberg" • skeeze - "polar bear ice arctic" • MartinFuchs - "arctic ice floes cold" • NASA Goddard Photo and Video - "P-3B Begins First Day of Science Flights" • Pexels - "book dictionary encyclopedia"

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