Climate change effects on Antarctica

by etienne on September 13, 2017 - 6:29pm

Guillaume Fraticelli, Étienne Poirier, David Normand

Climate change effects on Antarctica Climate change has become a huge subject in recent years due to the seriousness of the situation. Unfortunately, it’s not a subject big enough to see a major turn in our habits. One of the reasons it’s not that yet, for the moment, is because the visible consequences are relatively small on our lives. However, consequences are major in parts of the globe where there is no human activity. For example, changes in Antarctica are already visible and irreversible. On May 23rd, 2016, the Antarctica concentration of carbon dioxide reached 400 ppm. It was the last place on Earth to reach this concentration.

First of all, we have to know that Antarctica plays a big role in the glacier situation in the world. The Antarctica actually contains around 75% of the world’s total volume of fresh water under ice form. The melting of all that ice would result in a huge loss of fresh water knowing that this fresh water would go directly into the ocean and transform into salt water. Even though this would be catastrophic, it would bring an even bigger issue; sea level rise. In fact, if the Antarctic ice sheet melts, the result would be dramatic; a worldwide sea level rise by more than 60 meters. Cities like Miami, New York, Montreal and London, to name only a few, would totally disappear from the world map. Florida and Netherlands would also be almost completely submerged by water.

Second of all, Antarctica creates a cycle that is accelerating climate change. It goes as follows: as the global temperature rises, more and more ice is melting. This decreases the surface of ice that is exposed to the sun. This way, less pale surface and darker surface such as water is created. This dark surface absorbs more heat and energy and creates a never-ending loop. Also, normally snow deposits on the ice. But now, so much glacier melts that the snow goes directly in the water. That causes a big rise of the water level in the ocean. Sea level has risen of 1.5cm per decade since 1880. But for the most recent decades, the level has been increasing to 2.5cm per decade. The big difference between Arctic and Antarctic is that the Arctic is an ocean surrounded by land and the Antarctic is a land mass surrounded by oceans. So, if all the glaciers should melt in Antarctica, that would be more damageable that if the glacier melts in Arctic. Because the land in Antarctica would be flooded.

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