North Pole Melting is Accelerating

Don Wyeth

North Pole Melting is Accelerating

3 min.
December 22, 2020

 By now most people are familiar with the picture of the polar bear stranded on a chunk of ice. But we must take the long view if we are to understand the full meaning and implications of this picture.

The effects of global warming in the Arctic, or climate change in the Arctic include rising air and water temperatures, loss of sea ice,…” wikipedia.org. Our northern polar region has experienced the highest rate of warming to date; “…shrinking… glaciers, ice caps, ice sheets, and permafrost ,,, all being greatly impacted.” www.climatehotmap.org. 

  One of the main factors involved in causing this melting of sea ice at the poles is “…the increasingly dense blanket of greenhouse gases…” surrounding our planet.  www.ocean.si.edu. With the reduction of sea ice, the Earth absorbs increasing amounts of solar radiation, which consequently increases the rate of overall warming. For the animals that live in these areas their situation is equivalent to us trying to live in a house without any furniture to sit down or lay upon.

   When sea ice melts, the sea level does not rise. But, increasing temperatures in the polar north region {The highest temperature yet recorded is 13 °C (55 °F), much warmer than the South Pole's record high of only −12.3 °C (9.9 °F)} are also causing the land-based ice in Greenland, Northern Canada, and northern Asia to melt, which does cause sea level increases. So, what will happen if all the land-based ice melts? “As National Geographic showed us in 2013, sea levels would rise by 216 feet if all the land ice on the planet were to melt. This would dramatically reshape the continents and drown many of the world's major cities.” www.businessinsider.com. 

  This accelerated melting has an increasingly serious impact on extreme weather events such as hurricanes and floods which cause related socio-economic losses. “…based on the impacts of extreme weather events and the socio-economic losses they cause, Japan, the Philippines and Germany are the most affected places by climate change today.”  www.iberdrola.com.

Frequency of storms, heat waves, floods, and drought all increase with a warming climate. This warming produces atmospheric conditions which retain, and drop more water. This situation produces changing weather patterns that can be increasingly destructive “…in such a way that wet areas become wetter and dry areas drier.” www.nrdc.org. As this trend continues, we can expect to see “…more frequent wildfires, longer duration of droughts and an increase in the frequency and severity of tropical storms.” climate.nasa.gov. 

  In the last installment of Going Green, we talked about measures that could be taken by individuals to help ameliorate the growing problem. Buying and using Energy Star appliances certainly can help. But, the truth of the matter is, all of the countries of the world must work in a coordinated fashion to successfully defeat this problem. We need to take politics out of the equation and insert scientific reasoning. Any other approach is simply a waste of time; time that we simply do not have.

This article was orginally reported by
Don Wyeth

Passionate and intelligent columnist from Madison, WI.