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The Problem of the Ice Melting

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The melting of polar ice is primarily caused by the increasing amount of gas emissions, mainly CO2 rising into the atmosphere (global warming) Global warming is the rise in the average temperature of Earth’s atmosphere and oceans. Since the early 20th century, Earth’s mean surface temperature has increased by about 0. 8 °C. Scientists are more than 90% sure that it is caused by rising amount of concentrations of greenhouse gases, which are produced by human activities e. g. the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.

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The warmer the atmosphere is, the more the ice is going to melt which then causes a rise in the water levels, putting countries such as Denmark at risk of being flooded as they are situated below sea level. As well as that, with the ice melting, organisms which rely on the frozen environment become affected when it alters, e. g. the Ward Ice Shelf had contained a unique freshwater lake, however it splintered due to melting and the lake and the ecosystem it contained drained into the Arctic Ocean.

This has impacted on the animals, as polar bears, walruses and seals were made to migrate to different regions for find food, making it more difficult to survive. METHODS USES TO OBTAIN DATA Figure 1, taken from http://psc. apl. washington. edu/wordpress/research/projects/arctic-sea-ice-volume-anomaly/ is the arctic sea ice volume anomaly from the PIOMAS. The daily sea ice volume anomalies are relative to the 1979-2011 average for that particular day of the year. The trend for 1979-present is in blue, which shows a decrease in sea ice volume.

The shaded areas show the variations from the trend, whilst the error bars show the possibility of error of the monthly anomaly which is plotted once per year. Figure 1, taken from http://psc. apl. washington. edu/wordpress/research/projects/arctic-sea-ice-volume-anomaly/ is the arctic sea ice volume anomaly from the PIOMAS. The daily sea ice volume anomalies are relative to the 1979-2011 average for that particular day of the year. The trend for 1979-present is in blue, which shows a decrease in sea ice volume.

The shaded areas show the variations from the trend, whilst the error bars show the possibility of error of the monthly anomaly which is plotted once per year. The volume of the Arctic sea ice is calculated using the Pan-Arctic Ice Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System (PIOMAS), which was developed at the University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory/Polar Science Center. PIOMAS puts sea ice concentrations made by satellites into model calculations to estimate sea ice thickness and volume. Submarine and satellite observations help increase the reliability of the model results.

Figure 1 Figure 1 This data is evidence of the arctic sea ice volume decreasing, which is possibly a result of increasing greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide. Figure 2 Figure 2 Figure 3 shows the amount of CO2 produced per million, which has fluctuated regularly however it has dramatically increased since 1950 according to this graph, which coordinates with figure 9 as from 1980 onwards shows a decrease in sea ice volume. Another way of obtaining data is the Cryosat-2. The Cryosat-2 is a European space agency environmental research satellite which was launched in April 2010.

It measures the thickness across the entire Arctic Ocean basin, which is useful for climate change as any decrease in the thickness of the ice could be a result from increasing greenhouse gases. Figure 3 Figure 3 POSSIBLE SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM: RE-FREEZING THE ICE The idea of refreezing the ice was inspired by the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991, where 20 megatons of sulfur dioxide was erupted into the atmosphere and managed to cool all of Northern… Figure 4 Figure 4 As the figure 4 shows, in the stratosphere it heats up due to the volcano Mount Pinatubo erupting however in the lower atmosphere it has cooled down ecause the ash (sulphur) cloud has shielded the atmosphere.

David Keith, a professor of applied physics at Harvard University has done research into the field of Solar Radiation Management and has written a paper based on spraying reflective aerosols, which are tiny drops of liquid such as sulphur dioxide or titanium dioxide into the stable stratosphere where they can persist for years. http://www. pnas. org/content/107/38/16428. figures-only According to this video, http://www. ted. com/talks/david_keith_s_surprising_ideas_on_climate_change. tml, particles can be levitated into the stratosphere due to the photophoretic force created by unevenly heated particles. Figure 5, shows that the side of the particle facing the sun is warmer than the side facing away; therefore when gas molecules bounce off the warmer side, they do so with extra velocity making a net force away from the sun, known as the photophoretic force which produces a levitation force. Figure 5 Figure 5 Injecting just five metric tons of these reflective aerosols into the Arctic stratosphere could lower solar radiation levels by 0. 5% over the Arctic Ocean and refreeze it.

The aerosols would need to be injected into the stratosphere as if they were injected into the troposphere they would get caught in the turbulent weather and would not last long enough to reduce the incoming sunlight. Dr. Keith and his colleagues suggest that good results could be achieved, with a minimum of risk, by only using solar radiation management on a regional scale. Figure 6 Figure 6 Figure 6 shows two pictures. The upper picture shows what the world looks like under one climate model with twice as much C02 in, and the second shows what the world looks like under the same climate model with twice as much C02 in but with 1. % reduction in solar intensity, therefore the world going back to its original climate. Figure 2 shows how effective the possible solution is, however it doesn’t show the side effects of this possible solution. IS THE SOLUTION APPROPIRATE? The United Nations has ruled out open air and large scale geoengineering experiments, which prevents this solution from being tested as some scientists believe that they need to understand how the earth’s climate might respond to manipulation.

However, although more research may need to be done, making the solution more accurate, testing on models have taken place, for example: In 2006, California was suffering a heat wave that lasted over two weeks. The scientists researching the idea ran a computer model, the, Weather Research Forecast model; to test whether blowing sulfur dioxide 12 Km into the atmosphere would manage to cool down the state. The results with the stimulation showed that the afternoon temperatures would decline in response to the amount of sulfur particles that were placed in the stratosphere.

Quoting from the article “Could aerosol emissions be used for regional heat wave mitigation? ” (http://www. atmos. ucla. edu/~csi/REF/abstracts/absBernstein_etal. html) the results came back positive. “For emission rates of approximately 30 µg m-2 s-1 (30 micrograms) over the region, temperature decreases of around 7 C results during the middle part of the day over the Central Valley, one of the hardest hit by the heat wave. Regions more ventilated with oceanic air such as Los Angeles have slightly smaller reductions. The length of the hottest part of the day is also reduced. From this model, it was concluded that “The evaluation of this regional scale application is thus consistent with global model evaluations emphasizing that mitigation via reduction of fossil fuels remains preferable to considering geoengineering with sulphate aerosols”. Another reason why this solution may be appropriate is because the equipment used to transport the sulphur into the stratosphere is already available, as all that would need to be done would be modifying a few Gulfstream jets, therefore reducing the cost of this solution, which is meant to cost less than $8 billion.

This is a drastic solution, and Keith has admitted that it should only be considered in a climate disaster, such as an extreme drought that causes a lot of deaths or the collapse of the remaining ice sheets, the Greenland ice sheet and the arctic ice sheet, and so therefore although this is a possible solution, the researchers believe that it is appropriate in desperate times but for now whilst they continue their research in finding out the side effects of their plan, cutting down on C02 emissions is the way forward to prevent global warming and consequently the melting of the ice. TWO IMPLICATIONS OF THIS SOLUTION: ENVIROMENTAL ISSUE: With releasing 5 metric tons of aerosols into the atmosphere, there is a risk of destroying the stratospheric ozone layer if the reflective aerosols get into the Antarctic stratospheric clouds which accumulate during the winter, which are the cause of the Antarctic ozone layer hole.

The chemicals in high concentrations would enhance the destruction of ozone, making it even larger. However although that is an implication of the solution suggested, Keith suggests that using a regional scale approach would limit the concentration of aerosols, therefore limiting the amount of damage they cause. SOCIAL ISSUE: There are worries that with geoengineering methods being researched, there will be a weaker commitment to cutting gas emissions. This solution is thought to be considered in climate disaster, however in not attempting to cut down on the gas emissions now and instead rectifying the melting ice by geoengineering would stop educating the world on the effects of greenhouse gases on the environment and how to cut them down. Figure 7 Figure 7 Figure 7 shows that this solution will work best if combined with mitigation (reducing the amount of gas emissions released into the atmosphere).

If no mitigation takes place then the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere continues to increase and geoengineering will be used more, where as if geoengineering is used to “take the edge off the heat” then it restores the original climate but then further mitigation continues to sustain that original climate, decreasing the need for further geoengineering. BENEFITS AND RISKS TO HUMANS, ORGANISMS AND THE ENVIROMENT | Advantages of solutions| Disadvantages of solution|

To Humans| If the solution works then the ice will refreeze and therefore there won’t be a risk in rising sea levels which if the artic sheet melts, it could cause a rise of 200 feet, flooding some of the most economical cities in the world, e. g. New York| Although this solution may be possible, it does ‘t educate the people on how to reduce gas emissions and therefore although the ice would be refrozen and the climate change reducing, co2 will still be admitted into the atmosphere in high amounts because the people haven’t be educated on how to prevent the high levels of gas emissions. To organisms| If the climate change is reduced, the ice will be refrozen and all animals and organisms that live in those regions will have a higher chance of survival because they depend on the ice. |

The solution may not work and therefore could damage the ozone layer even more, increasing the amount of heat that reaches the surface and melting the ice faster, which could impact on the animals enough to make them endangered and possibly extinct. Environment| If this solution works, it means there won’t be an increase in sea level and therefore money won’t have to be spent on building sea defences such as sea walls to protect against flooding. | Because the solution is a large-scale geoengineering project and hasn’t been done, the side effects are unknown and instead of doing good, the project could cause more damage such as the ozone layer being enlarged or destroyed. The results could cause a huge drought, as well the reflective areoles would dry up the ground preventing any condensation or evaporation happening and therefore preventing precipitation.

As well as this, although this is a possible solution, it doesn’t prevent the acidification of the ocean, which is another byproduct of CO2 emissions. The melting of the arctic tundra would release huge stores of methane into the environment, and as methane is a greenhouse gas it could speed up the process of global warming even quicker| ALTERNATE METHODS 1) The social implications of the possible solution mean that another alternate method can be simply educating people on the impacts that gas emissions have on our environment and ways in which they can reduce them, such as driving less and recycling objects. ) It is thought that soot, produced from burning diesel engines, coal fired power plants and wood has a had a big impact on the melting ice. Soot absorbs sunlight as it falls on ice therefore warming the climate and is a reason for the melting sea ice in the arctic region.

Soot in snow and ice, by itself in an 1880-2000 simulation, accounted for 25 percent of observed global warming. Ways to decrease black carbon emissions; * Deforestation will help reduce black carbon emissions (soot) as the burning of wood from tropical rain forests is a big contributor. Diesel filters in cars can be ungraded and biomass-burning stoves can be exchanged for technology that uses solar power. It is thought that these changes will be cheaper than decarbonization and will help reduce the amount of black carbon found in our atmosphere. Bibliography | Source| Title| Name of author| Date at which I looked at it. | http://www. brighthub. com/environment/science-environmental/articles/49609. aspx| The Melting of Polar Ice Caps is Harming the Polar Bears Survival| Alyssa Ast and edited by Laurie Patsalides| 29/01/201330/01/2013| http://news. nationalpost. om/2012/12/10/one-solution-to-the-melting-ice-caps-refreeze-them-it-wouldnt-even-cost-that-much/| One solution to the melting ice cap: Refreeze it. It wouldn’t even cost that much| Bob Weber| 29/01/201330/01/2013|

http://blogs. scientificamerican. com/guest-blog/2012/09/21/arctic-sea-ice-what-why-and-what-next/| Arctic Sea Ice: What, Why and What Next| Ramez Naam | 29/01201330/01/2013| http://ca. news. yahoo. com/blogs/geekquinox/record-loss-arctic-sea-ice-no-problem-just-155430301. html | Record loss of Arctic sea ice? No problem: Just refreeze it! | Scott Sutherland| 29/01/201330/01/2013| http://www. ogonews. com/2012/12/20/can-we-refreeze-the-arctic-this-scientist-certainly-thinks-so | Can We Refreeze The Arctic? This Scientist Certainly Thinks So| Meera Dolasia| 29/01/201330/01/2013| http://mashable. com/2012/12/22/arctic-global-warming/ | Harvard Scientist Proposes Refreezing Arctic to Prevent Global-Warming Disaster| Joann Pan| 30/01/2013| http://www. ted. com/talks/david_keith_s_surprising_ideas_on_climate_change. html | David Keith’s unusual climate change idea| unknown| 30/01/201331/02/2013| http://www. thearcticinstitute. org/p/arctic-sea-ice-extent-and-volume. html|

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The Problem of the Ice Melting. (2016, Oct 22). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-problem-of-the-ice-melting/

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