One of the most popular politically hot topics in the world today is global warming. Championing or identifying with a cause related to the phenomenon of global warming is a guaranteed way of seeming to care about the earth, and some unscrupulous people actually do this in order to get attention and publicity. But thankfully, such people are few, and the majority of global warming enthusiasts do actually care about the earth. The numerous physical and geographical changes that have been occurring all over the world are proof enough, and particular attention has been given to global warming and the effect Arctic.
Global Warming and the Arctic
Global warming, according to a definition from Princeton, is an increase in the average temperature of the earth's atmosphere especially if sustained to an extent where it causes climatic changes. The effects of global warming can be seen all over the earth but experts are particularly concerned about those taking place in the Arctic because the Arctic serves as a pulse point and reference for global climate changes. According to a NASA study, changes in the sea ice covers and Arctic temperatures may be a herald of worldwide changes in climate yet to come. Therefore, a study of global warming and its affect of the Arctic improves the understanding of the global climatic changes. The resultant increase in the temperature of the atmosphere holds several far-ranging consequences for the Arctic, particularly the ecosystem.
Melting Glaciers and Sea Ice
Sea ice has often been used by scientists as a standard for determining the extent of global warming. As a result, periodic measurements of the dimensions of sea ice are made in order to serve as an early warning system. According to a 2004 report by ACIA (Arctic Climate Impact Assessment), the annual sea ice level has shrunk by about 8% in the last 30 years. This translates to a land mass of about 386,102 square miles. This area is larger than the combined land masses occupied by Denmark, Norway and Sweden. And the alarming thing is, the trend of melting is accelerating.
Rising Sea Levels
Rising sea levels are the result of the increased melting of glaciers and sea ice. Statistics have shown that global sea levels have risen by 4-8 inches in the last one hundred years and the pace of this rising seems to be increasing. The IPCC (International panel on Climate Change), has predicted that by the year 2100, sea levels will have risen by 10-23 inches. Rising sea levels can result in the flooding of coastal areas and the loss of wetlands and island barriers.
Disruption of the Ecosystem
Global warming and the effects on the Arctic can perhaps be clearly seen in terms of the rate at which wildlife populations are decreasing with a large number of species going extinct. According to a recent assessment, over one million species could become extinct by 2050. The National Science Institute has estimated that there is anywhere from 5 million to 100 million species of life on earth, yet they have only identified roughly 2 million of them. Seen in those terms, the extinction of one million species is astronomical.
All these events are indicative of the fact that serious steps need to be taken to combat the enemy that is known as global warming. If the earth is to continue to sustain life as we know it, there needs to be radical changes in our thinking, and indeed, in our very lifestyles. Finding the cause of global warming and doing something to counter it should be a priority of governments around the world.