The environmental issues like global warming and ice meltdown are not recent. It's been decades since scientists are warning people about the ill effects of climate change. Moreover, NASA has been keeping an eye on polar caps researching on the ice meltdown. Recently, NASA released an animated illustration which shows the change in Arctic sea ice over the years.
The illustration is startling.
The animation shows a rapid decline in Arctic's Perennial ice. You might be wondering what Perennial ice is? Well, it is that portion of sea ice that survives the summer melt season.
As the temperature shifts through seasons every year, the Arctic ice reaches it's maximum and minimum. The white portion visible in the picture is the perennial ice. It's the thickest ice that can last up to 4, or even 9 years or more without melting in warmer summer months.
The change is beyond shocking. There has been a drastic change in the old ice. The younger ice, on the other hand, has become the majority across the arctic. It hardly grows up to 2 meters during winters and is hence more likely to melt during the summers.
The image shows the Arctic on September 10, 2016, when the sea ice extent was at 4.14 million square kilometers. The orange line shows 1981 to 2010 average extent for that day. According to NASA one of the global climate models predict that the Artic would be ice-free by mid-century.
Not only this illustration is an eye-opener but a wake-up call for all of us. The implications of ice meltdown are not difficult to imagine as most of them are clearly shown in the movie, 'The Day After Tomorrow'.
I am sure you haven't ever pondered over that. Well, now is the time. One study published in environmental research letters found that if the Arctic sea ice melts, England will probably get a little rainier and the northern jet stream will shift southwards bringing cold polar air making winters colder and Snowier in North America.
Ice melts at a rate of more than 33,2014 square miles per year, wildlife is losing critical habitat. Some of the animals are already changing their feeding and migration patterns.
The two main ice sheets are the Greenland and the Antartic Ice sheets, which lock up to 99 percent of the fresh water on Earth. A large ice shelf in the Antarctic that has existed for more than 12,000 years is on the brink of collapse. The meltdown is speeding up.
According to a study published in a journal, Climate Dynamics, if all the ice in the Greenland ice sheet melts, the global sea levels would rise by about 7.3 meters. If all of the Antarctica melts, sea levels would rise by 61 meters. The entire US would be underwater and Florida would vanish.
As the ice melts, the climate change gets worse. The ice acts as the giant reflector bouncing sunlight back into space. If the ice melts, more of the Sun's energy would be absorbed, heating up the Earth more, which in turn will melt more ice and the vicious cycle will continue.