Global Climate concern: Arctic’s accelerating Ice Loss

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In September, sea ice in the Arctic Ocean hit a low of about 1.4 mn acres- the second lowest on record. Reports suggest, in 1980, ice covered at least 1 mn more acres of the ocean than it does now. Sea ice at the North and south poles has shrunk dramatically over the last 25 years. The latest evidence shows that earth’s northernmost ice sheet has entered a period of rapid decline. We should be concerned because ice doesn’t only contribute to sea level rise, but it has been linked to increased storminess on the East coast. It would also lead to weakening the jet stream, resulting in slower weather patterns and events like heat waves would last longer. According to the reports, over the past 20 years, the Arctic Ocean has warmed so much that air over the sea surface forms towers of hot air. These changing weather patterns caused by ice loss may also cause more El Nino storms in the Pacific Ocean. It is also causing a major loss to the natural habitat. With the ice melting, polar bears have to swim and hunt between smaller chunks, which tires them and they are at higher risk of hypothermia. A 2018 study found that polar bears in the region have been losing weight during late spring and early summer when they should be gaining weight to prepare for the winter. Greenland alone is losing about 234 bn tons of ice per year. If global emissions continue unabated, sea levels could rise 10-12 feet by 2120. A 2017 report also suggested that ice loss could cause major American cities including Miami, Florida to disappear underwater.

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