“The Earth would only have to move a few million kilometers sunward—or starward—for the delicate balance of climate to be destroyed. The Antarctic icecap would melt and flood all low-lying land; or the oceans would freeze and the whole world would be locked in eternal winter. Just a nudge in either direction would be enough.” – Arthur C. Clarke
Polar ice cap is a region covered with ice at the north and south poles. But why the ice only covers the north and south poles? Because the angle of sunlight reaching our round earth. At the equator, sunlight hits the earth at a 90° angle. This creates and environment of little variation in both temperature and hours of sunlight during the day (Dunn, M.G. 2013). So at the north and south pole will receive less solar energy, and so the extreme cold temperature creates huge ice sheets at both poles. The ice helps to keep our earth cool and creates better environment for humans and other creatures on earth. But due to human activities the temperature is increasing around the world, the ice cap starts to collapse due to the temperature.
What does the ice cap do?
The ice cap is the key element to keep our earth and the ocean at a liveable temperature. The ice caps act like a giant mirror, it reflects solar radiation back into space (N/A N/A). On the other hand, when there is less sea ice, the dark, open water absorbs more of the sun’s warmth and raises the temperature of both air and water, therefore it affects the overall climate around the world. Also the ice caps contain the majority of earth’s supply of fresh water, scientists estimate that 70 present of earth’s freshwater supply remains in an ice caps (Dunn, M.G. 2013). Moreover, ice caps are home for thousands of animals, such as polar bears, penguins and seals.
What cause the ice cap to melt?
The ice cap normally melts due to seasonal temperature variations. But since the industrial revolution the ice cap starts to melt rapidly due to human activities, such as deforestation, burning fossil fuels and methane created from decomposition of waste in landfills (Irene Quaile 2013). The carbon dioxide and methane trap the heat. It increases overall temperature around the world. The sea water gets warmer increase the speed of ice cap melting, and less sun radiation will be reflected more ice cap will get melted, this vicious cycle doubles the speed of ice cap melting.
What will happen when all the ice cap melts?
If all the ice cap melts it will bring tremendous impacts to all living creatures on earth. Firstly, the climate change due to melting ice will cause certain animal or insect species to go extinct, which effects to food chain and ecosystem (Marshall, M. 2012). Moreover, the heat will increase the chance also the damage of tornado, typhoon and other natural disasters. The climate change might lead to catastrophic natural disasters like in the movie “The day after tomorrow” the whole world experience an ice age to bring the temperature back to normal.
After all the ice melts the water will increase by 70 meters, the ocean will cover the coastal cities. The water will not cover the whole planet like in the movie “Water world”. But the rise of sea level will still have great impact to places that live near the coast or very close the water like Venice, Fiji and Australia.
For the blog:
Dunn, M.G. 2013, Ice cap, National Geographic Education, viewed 09/09 2015, <http://education.nationalgeographic.com.au/encyclopedia/ice-cap/>.
Edmond Mathez n/a, Will the world ever be all underwater because of all the ice melting? Ask a scientist, viewed 09/09 2015, <http://www.amnh.org/ology/features/askascientist/question18.php>.
GAUTAM NAIK 2009, Polar Ice Cap Shrinks Further and Thins, The wall street journal, viewed 9/09 2015, <http://www.amnh.org/ology/features/askascientist/question18.php>.
Irene Quaile 2013, Polar ice sheets melting faster than ever, DW: Made for minds, viewed 09/09 2015, <http://www.dw.com/en/polar-ice-sheets-melting-faster-than-ever/a-16432199>.
Marshall, M. 2012, ‘How to preserve the Arctic ice cap’, vol. Vol. 216, no. Issue 2888.
N/A N/A, Quick Facts on Ice Sheets, National snow & Ice data centre, viewed 09/09 2015, <https://nsidc.org/cryosphere/quickfacts/icesheets.html>.
For the Image:
1zoom 2014, The day after tomorrow, 1zoom.net, viewed 09/09 2015, <http://www.1zoom.net/Movies/The_Day_After_Tomorrow_/t2/1/>.
Johnson Chen 2015, Waterworld, Subscene, viewed 09/09 2015, <http://subscene.com/subtitles/waterworld>.
Mike 2015, John Tyndall Greenhouse Effect, Le Centre De La Bibliothèque, viewed 09/09 2015, <http://188.8.131.52/john-tyndall-greenhouse-effect>.
For the video:
Movieclips 2011, An Inconvenient Truth ,Youtube, viewed 09/09 2015, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTFuGHWTIqI>.