The Issue

The sea ice cover in the Earth’s arctic regions is threatened by human induced climate change.  Increased greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere are warming the temperatures of northern oceans. This promotes melting of arctic ice which is replaced with more water that absorbs more solar radiation thus resulting in a positive feedback loop.  Changing ocean currents are also melting ice. Weather patterns are responsible for arctic air temperatures, and these are increasing along with more precipitation as rain. Arctic ice covers up methane and when it melts, the methane (which is a greenhouse gas) escapes. The amount of solar radiation reflected back  from earth, called albedo, is decreasing as ice melts which reveals open water and exposed earth which absorb more radiation, thus warming the ground and atmosphere. Wildlife is impacted as the warming climate and decreasing ice cover affect their natural lifestyles and disrupts the food chain. Melting arctic ice will impact humans around the world as albedo decreases and the earth’s ocean levels rise. Severe weather impacts will increase and disease carrying organisms could spread to new regions. People living in northern communities will be among the first to see impacts to their environment. Other impacts  that could appear as beneficial to society could include longer crop growing seasons, new shipping routes opening up, and more recoverable fossil fuel reserves.


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