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Antarctica’s Shrinking Iceberg

Geography | 12-14 yrs | Interactive

Thousands of years ago, most of Europe, Asia, North and South America was covered by huge sheets of ice, each several kilometres thick, but today, the only ice sheets on the Earth are found in Antarctica and Greenland. In this article, we will talk about Antarctica. It is a continent at the South Pole, located at the bottom of the globe. The continent remains frozen throughout the year because of extremely cold weather. Scientists believe that more than 90% of the ice found on the whole planet is in Antarctica. Today, Antarctica is changing fast because of the ongoing climate change.

What is climate change?

Climate change is what happens when our actions affect the Earth’s atmosphere. Our indiscriminate usage of the earth’s resources have caused drastic changes in global temperatures and weather. You would have noticed that the summers are becoming warmer, with temperatures soaring as high as 50 degrees Celsius and winters too are becoming more unbearable than before. All of this is a result of climate change, and we are directly responsible for it.

What is global warming?

Global warming is the rise in the temperature of the Earth. The harmful gases that are released from the vehicles and factories go up into the air. These gases are known as greenhouse gases and some of these gases trap heat and make the whole planet warmer. Deforestation or removal of the green cover of the Earth also contributes to global warming. Global warming does not just mean one day of hot weather. It means a slow but steady rise in the temperature over many, many years. Deforestation also contributes to global warming.

Let us explain to you in a little more detail. The Sun naturally warms up the Earth through its atmosphere, and the excessive heat from the Earth is reflected into space. Generally, the temperature on the Earth remains perfectly regulated by its atmosphere, but the presence of too many greenhouse gases makes the atmosphere thick and causes a ‘green house’ effect. The excessive heat from the sunlight gets trapped within the Earth’s atmosphere, leading to a rise in temperature. The ice in Antarctica is not supposed to melt, but because of global warming, it is melting a little bit more every year.

What are icebergs and glaciers?

Glaciers are made up of a large chunk of snow and ice and are found in Antarctica. An iceberg is a piece of glacier that breaks off from it because of the rise in temperature. Icebergs are made of fresh water and can float on sea water.

Are icebergs breaking away from the glaciers in Antarctica?

According to a NASA satellite, a large iceberg broke off from the Antarctic glaciers in July 2017. If the icebergs keep breaking off from the glaciers and begin melting, this will lead to a noticeable and dangerous rise in the sea-levels across the globe.

What are the harmful effects of climate change?

Changes in climate lead to serious natural disasters such as cyclones, earthquakes and tsunamis. This will lead to flooding of the low-lying areas and loss of vegetation and wildlife. Some of the major U.S. cities like Boston, Miami and New York are more likely to be flooded first. Many islands near the South Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean will be buried under the water. The number of people displaced could be well-imagined.

Icebergs also act like a mirror; they reflect the sunlight and thereby help in keeping the Earth’s temperature under control. If they disappear, the Earth will become warmer and many harmful climate changes would take place.

You CAN Help!

You would be thinking that since the problem is so big, there is hardly anything that you can do to help, but this is not the case. Each one of you who is reading this article can help in preventing this crisis.

Here is your list of do’s and don’ts to reduce climate change

  • Remember the three Rs-Reduce, reuse, recycle. Reduce the use of non-renewable fuels and things that consume more power. Try to reuse your old things. You can also give away your old clothes and toys to the needy children. Be creative, make an effort to come up with ideas to make new things out of the old. Try to put everything back into use.
  • Plant more trees.
  • Use energy saving CFLs in your house instead of bulbs and tube lights.
  • Use electrical appliances in your home wisely.
  • Turn off the lights and electrical appliances when not in use
  • Save water in the washroom.
  • Instead of going out in your car, prefer to use your cycle, or any means of public transport.
  • Let us prevent any further climate change, reduce our carbon footprint and adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle, starting TODAY!

Fact sheet on climate change

  1. As per the scientists, the global sea level rise has increased from 2.2mm each year in 1993, to 3.3mm each year in 2014.
  2. The average global temperature on the Earth has increased about 0.8° Celsius (1.4° Fahrenheit) since 1880.
  3. According to a research study, global warming will increase the Earth’s average temperature by 2-11 degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2100.
  4. Small icebergs weigh hundreds of tonnes and the big icebergs may weigh about billions of tonnes.
  5. Smaller icebergs are known as bergy bits and growlers. They are especially dangerous for ships because it is difficult to spot them.
  6. The famous ship Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg.
  7. Greenhouse gases mainly comprise of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and chlorofluorocarbons (better known as CFCs).
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