According to research evidence, the fast melting of the Arctic ice sheet will soon lead to the Arctic ocean in the northern hemisphere being completely ice free during summer months. Why is this a problem, and what are the consequences of the Arctic ice sheets melting?
- When ice sheets break and melt, it causes (hazardous) waves in the ocean
- The melting of the Arctic ocean ice sheets influences and changes global weather patterns, and affects for example the jet stream, which in turn causes increasingly many extreme weather events such as stronger hurricanes, floods and droughts around the world. Some regions worldwide consequently suffer from more severe heatwaves while others become colder.
- When the ice sheets melt, they are being replaced by thinner ice sheets that are very saline. The young, thin ice sheets also play a significant role in how carbon dioxide (CO2) moves through the system, with CO2 being one of the major problematic greenhouse gases that are warming our planet.
- When snow fall on the young, thin ice sheets, this snow prevents the new, young ice sheets from growing thicker, resulting in the ice sheets becoming thinner each year.
- The sea ice in the Arctic is as important to the region as trees are to (tropical) forests. The changes in the sea ice in the Arctic affects everything in its marine ecosystem.
- Although the ice is decreasing in the region, it has become more hazardous. The faster the ice sheets move in the Arctic, the more dangerous they become.
- When the north pole (and Arctic Ocean) loses its ice sheet, the ocean becomes open, losing its heat to the atmosphere (breaking down of the Polar Vortex).
(TEDx Talks. Seven surprising results from the reduction of Arctic Sea ice Cover/David Barber/TEDxUManitoba).
Watch YaleClimateConnections video “Arctic Sea Ice 2016” to learn more about the topic:
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