Climate Change: The Declining Ice Cover in the Arctic Ocean

The Arctic Ocean this year on July 15 alarmingly recorded a dipping ice cover of 7.51 million square kilometers (Source: National Snow & Ice Data Center). To be specific, this is almost 330,000 square kilometers lower than the figure verified on July 15, 2011. Do you know what this could mean in the near or distant future? Well, a rapid disappearance of summer sea ice in the Arctic Ocean by the year 2035. It’s a matter of grave concern for scientists. They predict it to be a step towards planet-reshaping and devastation.

This is not something out of the blue. If you can recall, we have been a witness to a similar incident in the past. In the year 2012, the ice cover dipped 18% lower than that of 2007’s level (Source: Scientific American). But scientists speculate the figure to topple further this year by the end of September.

Reason Behind the Big Meltdown

While, of course, global warming and the soaring emissions of greenhouse gases are holistic causes for such a phenomenon, other weather conditions have primed the impact. For instance, the Siberian Arctic was a harbor to a high-pressure system. This was marked by sunny skies and a swirling atmospheric current. This caused the temperature in the region to shoot up and culminate in an alarming 1000 F over a town of Russia named ‘Verkhoyansk’. As it drifted off to the Siberian coast and approached the central Arctic Ocean, it caused a rapid meltdown of ice sheets.

This has acted further upon itself and reinforced the process, causing a further withdrawal of ice and clearing up of the ocean. And, as we all have read in textbooks, open oceans absorb more sunlight and heat. Unfortunately, this has warmed up the waters and catalyzed the melting down phenomenon.

Besides the abnormally soaring water temperatures, the western Arctic Ocean has also been a victim of a swirling cyclone in July. Though it’s quite a commonplace in the region, it sparked off concerns among scientists when they measured its intensity. Shockingly, it was strong enough to break up the sea ice, causing the meltdown to occur more rampantly. However, Erika Schreiber, an Arctic cyclone expert exclaimed that “I wouldn’t be surprised if this storm has a substantial impact.” She believes the warm weather had already weakened the ice and left it vulnerable to further weather patterns. On the contrary, many pointed out that the storm has not played much of a role as it fizzled out after a few days of its onset. Let’s not go into the controversy anymore because ultimately, all that matters is sea ice thinning. It seems our nightmare of an ice-free summer in the high North has already begun.

Impact of Such Incidents on The Lives of People

The dwindling of ice has virtually endangered the lives of inhabitants in the region. Land-fast ice was a like shield to the shorelines before. It protected coastal erosion caused by frequent storms and waves. With its absence today, the communities lined along the coast are at high risk. Small hamlets like Shishmaref, located in an island floating over the Chukchi Sea, have landed in the soup. They forecast rising sea levels and the disappearance of protective sea ice to destabilize their infrastructure soon.

On the contrary, Alaskans, who were compelled to relocate near the coast due to the U.S. colonization, are fretting the most. Isn’t it obvious given the fact that they are in a vulnerable position today, due to the rising sea level?

Can Eco-Friendly Living Make Any Difference?

Though much of the damage has already been done and human-caused climate change is on the roll, it’s never too late to start afresh. As discussed before, the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere was a chief reason for the warming up of our world. If we can wholeheartedly switch from plastics to eco-friendly materials like jute and cotton, there is still some hope of recovery. But, if we keep consuming plastics thoughtlessly and encourage its manufacturing, the concentration of greenhouses gases in the atmosphere shall build up. Sooner than later, we shall enter the vicious cycle of climate change and end up exhausting our natural resources and, of course, dig our own graves.

Final Thoughts:

There is still time. Think before you act and remember, whatever you undertake today, be it positive or negative, shall come back again in magnified forms. Coming back to dwindling Arctic sea ice, let’s not make summer sea ice a thing of the past for our future generation.

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