By Abby Bordeau (‘22)
The Arctic is the Earth’s furthest northern region, and is dead center in the North Pole. It consists of the pure ice and clear blue waters in which many animals inhabit, such as polar bears, walruses, arctic foxes, and seals.
However, Arctic regions are no longer the beautiful landscapes of nature they were once known to be. The arctic is heating almost twice as fast as the average region on earth and has increased in temperature by 2.3 degrees Celsius since the 1970s. Scientists agree that this climate change is caused by humans.
One danger of the Arctic’s rapid heating is the melting ice.
Science teacher Mrs. Susan Goldfarb said, “The melting ice reduces the amount of surface for [arctic animals] to live [on]. Also, melting ice means less sunlight gets reflected, which means there’s more warming. It reduces positive feedback, which could accelerate the process even more.”
Positive feedback is the addition of arctic warming, also called Arctic Amplification.
The melting of the ice also has a large effect on ice-dependent species like walruses, polar bears, and narwhals. It has been predicted that polar bears could face starvation and not be able to reproduce by 2100 as effect of the melting ice.
Not only does the melting sea ice danger the amount of living space for animals, but it also opens up previously unseen waters.
Mrs. Goldfarb said, “The melting ice of course causes sea levels to rise, which affects the entire climate.”
These waters and land without snow and ice covering them absorb more heat from the sun instead of reflecting the light as the sea ice does, which could warm the Arctic even more. This is known as the Albedo effect.
Not only are these waters a danger in heating, but they are a danger for ships with unsafe oils inside of them getting too close to the animals’ habitats. These waters are opening up routes that humans couldn’t use before the melting.
“With increased shipping comes spill risk [of oils], “black carbon” emissions that help to speed the rate of Arctic melting, ship noise that may also affect whales, and icebreaking that can disrupt ice crossing routes for people and animals,” according to the World Wide Fund for nature (WWF).
There is no way to successfully clean the oil-infused Arctic waters.
Additionally, the Arctic cools the rest of the world. With temperatures rising, the Arctic could cause the temperature of the whole world to rise.
According to the National Snow & Ice Center, “The Arctic region gives off more heat to space than it absorbs from the outside, which helps cool the planet. So changes in the Arctic climate could affect the climate in the rest of the world.”
Fortunately, there are a few solutions that citizens can use to bring awareness to the danger of heating in the Arctic and prevent it more.
Mrs. Goldfarb said, “Most researchers are just finding evidence. Well, awareness. Their research is based on informing people about the dangers. The information could help the policy makers change fossil fuel use and methane production.”
To make the effects of Arctic heating less dramatic, humans should steer toward using completely renewable energy. By cutting down on the use of oils and gas, production will decrease, causing less oils to be spilled into Arctic waters.
Solutions also depend on the Federal government taking control of the issue.
WWF said, “Climate change in the Arctic cannot be changed by action solely within the Arctic – it is a global problem that requires a global solution. … Arctic countries, especially those with high carbon footprints, should lead the way.”
There are many politicians that stand for these issues and encourage people to create more awareness about the dangers of climate change in the Arctic regions.
Mrs. Goldfarb said, “When you’re voting age, vote for politicians that care about those issues. Just save energy, be more efficient, consume less, recycle.”