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Why are ice caps melting?

I hear about global warming on the news, but why is the ice melting, and how fast?

4921 day(s) ago

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Whether you think global warming is man-made or not, there is incontrovertible proof that the ice caps are melting. Weíre not just talking about the sad pictures of polar bears stuck on 10x10 floating chunks in the ocean. Scientists have studied this for decades, and using satellite imagery, the results are stunning.

According to the National Resource Defense Council, temperatures in the Arctic are rising at a rate that is double that of the rest of the world. The Ward Hunt Ice Shelf, which has been around for 3000 years, began to crack only 10 years ago. Pictures taken from satellites show that the ice is receding at a rate of 9 percent per year, leading scientists to conclude that Arctic summers will be free of ice by the year 2100.

So whatís the issue? Just about every credible scientist will tell you (and thatís before Al Gore screams it at you) that temperatures are rising as a result of the increasing consumption of fossil fuels across the globe. Oil, natural gas, coal: when you take into account the incredible amounts that are being used in both developing and developed countries, youíre talking about a massive amount of heat-trapping gases entering the atmosphere.

The Arctic shelf is especially important, because it reflects radiation from the sun back into space, which acts to cool down the planetís temperatures as a whole. Without this system in place, global warming could accelerate to an even greater degree than seen today. And the worst news of all? This has become an ongoing cycle. Each winter, melted ice from the summer is replenished by colder temperatures. With warmer summers, however, comes more open water, which absorb more heat, and cause even more melting.

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