MELTING OF POLAR ICE AND ITS CONSEQUENCES

Polar Ice basically refers to the massive mountains of ice located at the North and South Pole of the Earth. The polar ice at the the Antarctica(South Pole) is about 2,133m(2.133km) in thickness on average. The polar ice at the Antarctica lies on the Antarctica continent(on the ground). The polar ice at the North Pole, however, does not lie on any ground. Rather, it floats on the Arctic Ocean there. The ice in the North Pole that do not melt seasonally can get very thick, up to 3–4 meters thick over large areas, with ridges up to 20 meters thick. Parts of the polar ice sometimes break off and drift into the ocean as icebergs.

The polar ice in general constitutes about 75% of the fresh water on the Earth and Antarctica ice constitutes about 90% of the entire polar ice. The polar ice  at the North and South Pole of the Earth are preserved because of the relatively small quantity of radiant heat the North and South Pole receive from the Sun.

 

Polar Ice are very important for many reasons. The snow they are covered with reflects a large amount of light back into space that would otherwise increase the overall temperature of Earth. The polar ice moderates the mean temperature of the Earth. Melting of polar ice would increase Global Warming.

Many animals and small plants depend on polar ice for food, shelter and general survival. Animals like polar bears, seals, penguins, walrus, arctic fox, sea lions, narwhals, etc depend on polar ice for survival. Without polar ice, many of these animals and plants will go into extinction. This will also indirectly affect people living in the sub-polar region as some depend on resources from the animals.

 

It has been scientifically estimated that if polar ice melts completely, the sea level will rise by more than 80 metres! The implication of this is that some parts of Southern Nigeria, for instance, will be submerged by Atlantic Ocean! Some parts of Lagos State, for instance are few metres above sea level, like less than 10 metres. Lagos has mean elevation of about 41metres. By implication, Lagos State and some parts of States like, Ogun State, Edo State, Delta State, Bayelsa State, Rivers State, Akwa Ibom State, Cross Rivers State, etc, will be submerged! People living in those States with low lying areas will have to migrate towards North and settle in States like Plateau State, etc. This will be experienced in all other countries of the world too, if polar ice melts completely!

So, we all need to work together to preserved our world. We cannot migrate to Mars or Jupiter. We all need to work together to mitigate polar ice melting. What is causing the melting of polar ice is basically Global Warming. Global Warming is extensively caused by Greenhouse Effect and  Greenhouse Effect is in turn, caused  by human activities like release of dangerous gases into the atmosphere, gases like, carbon monoxide, methane, nitrous oxide, chlorofluorocarbons(CFCs), etc.

It should be noted that if the polar ice at the north pole only, melts completely, this will not cause rise in sea level. Rather, this will bring about reduction in sea level. Only the melting of the polar ice at Antarctica and those on the continent will cause rise in sea level.

Why? The polar ice at the north pole floats on the Arctic Ocean. Ice is less dense than water. In other words, ice occupies more volume. So, Arctic polar ice floating in the sea is occupying more volume in the sea water.  If it melts completely, the resulting water will occupy less volume. Consequently, the sea level will reduce.

However, the polar ice at the Antarctica lies on the Antarctica continent(on the ground). If an ice sheet breaks off here and drifts into Antarctic ocean, definitely, this will bring about rise in sea level. The ice was not part of the ocean initially.

(Photo Credits: visitmostbeautifulplaces.blogspot,com)
(Photo Credits: blog.nature.org)

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