Every year, there’s more heat in the oceans, and this will contribute to an increase in sea level. Human activities are at the root of this phenomenon. So, the forest there is predominantly white spruce, and the bark beetle killed about 350,000 hectors of the forest in that part the Yukon–and left all of these standing dead trees. The earth's glaciers are melting much faster than scientists thought. Warmer temperatures cause glaciers to melt faster than they can accumulate new snow. The melting of this ice can have major negative consequences for countless people across Earth's surface. In an article published in the journal Nature last week, 75 scientists and policymakers from 22 countries set out their priorities for Antarctic research. But, it is a landscape that I first visited in 1988. While the melting of an iceberg already in the ocean will not dramatically contribute to So, we’re on that trajectory, and this is why there’s such an urgency to try to stabilize carbon emissions as quickly as possible within this decade to prevent the most dangerous warming from occurring. And as we move away from now into a warmer future, the rate of adaptation for some species could be very limited. The scientists check snow levels against stakes they’ve inserte… Mountain glaciers around the world, from the Himalayas to the Andes, are shrinking in the face of climate change—and that could pose a major threat to water resources for nearby communities. Often, we look at individual species, but species exist within a larger community. Melting glaciers will raise the sea level between 15 and 22 cm until 2100. And we talk about the natural hazards that occur as gravity moves rocks and mountain and water and snow down to the bottom. Coursera [00:20:06]: To keep learning from Dr. David Hik, go to Coursera.org today to enroll for free in his course Mountains 101. Meanwhile, a separate study found ice discharge from the Antarctica could raise sea levels by up to 37cm this century, more than previously thought. The melting of this ice can have major negative consequences for countless people across Earth's surface. Glaciers and ice sheets contain about 70 percent of the Earth's freshwater and ongoing melting is a major contributor to sea level rise. And I guess the short story is really that we’re still trying to understand and be able to better predict which species will be the winners in those scenarios and which we should be very concerned about and are at greatest risk of extinction. Coursera provides universal access to the world’s best education, partnering with top universities and organizations to offer courses online. Dr. David Hik [00:04:55]: Well, globally, glaciers are melting quite rapidly. One of the most disruptive effects of climate change, glacier retreat leads to rising sea levels, landslides and unpredictable availability of water downstream. But in many ways, the biggest changes are the things that you see happening right in front of you, year after year as you return. But we see the same thing happening in the forest and in the Alpine–and if you look a little more closely to some of the plants and animals that are living in those environments as well. Scientists Can Now Tell How Much Glaciers Melting Will Affect Specific Cities. Why does it matter? “Typically, it takes glaciers decades or centuries to adjust to climate changes,” says study co-author Ben Marzeion, a climate researcher at the University of Innsbruck. This is misleading. And clearly, they’ve been able to adapt to a variety of situations. Since industrial times, atmospheric CO2 has increased from about 280 parts per million up to where it is right now, about 415 parts per million. If I took you there ten years ago, and I took you there this year, one of the very first things you’d notice when you looked up at those hillsides is that the treeline and the shrubs seem more dense, and they’re moving upslope. For example, the melting of glaciers in the Himalayas will affect the drinking supplies of the millions of people who rely on meltwater rivers. Those are important changes. © 2020 Climate Home News Ltd. All rights reserved. Dr. David Hik [00:09:04]: So, sea-level rise is a function of glaciers melting, and of the thermal expansion of water. The latest results from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, in the Netherlands, show this could be happening faster than previously thought. Analyze and interpret data to explain the relationship between the growth and melting of ice sheets and changes in sea level. And I do two lessons on mountain biodiversity, focused on plants and the animals, and then we talk about the future of mountains and what some of the consequences of changes will be and what some of the options are for trying to preserve these unique places as well. are at stake and wise and cost-effective decision makers require this type of useful information from the scientific experts.”. But that sort of range of variation is going to be limited to the environmental variation that has been typical of, say, the last 10,000 years or 100,000 years. This indicator examines the balance between snow accumulation and melting in glaciers, and it describes how glaciers in the United States and around the world have changed over time. It’s snow, it’s ice, and it’s permafrost or frozen ground. Melting Glaciers are Devastating for Wetlands Essay 1493 Words | 6 Pages. Much of Earth's fresh water is locked away in glaciers and ice sheets, mostly in Antarctica. In addition, when sea levels rise, people living close to sea level will have their homes flooded. And that has huge impacts on water that feeds the largest rivers in the world. Dr. David Hik [00:13:53]: I mean, evolutionary processes can occur fairly quickly, or they can occur over very long periods of time. Just because water in an ice cap or glacier is not moving does not mean that it does not have a direct effect on other aspects of the water cycle and the weather. For more than 30 years, Dr. Hik has been studying plant and animal populations and how they interact with each other as well as their environment. We’ll start to notice that there’s species of fishes that have disappeared completely, from coral reefs as they disappear. We’re moving now into a climate state with warming that is being realized and predicted that is outside of the last 5 million years of Earth history. People have used this to try to determine if some habitats are at greater risk than others. The Robertson glacier runs down the divide between Mount Sir Douglas and Mount Robertson on the Alberta-B.C. Because physical geography connects different places together, the melting of glaciers in distant places can impact on people living in the UK in varied ways. Melting glaciers caused by global warming will lead to an increasing number of earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions, according to … They’re threatening every species of wildlife imaginable, forcing them to relocate as their habitats become unlivable. Glacial Melting Put Animals on the Run. But if you were someone who lived in the area, these would all be changes that you couldn’t help but notice either. Melting Glaciers Mean Double Trouble for Water Supplies. And we see that in many parts of the world. The five warmest years in the ocean in the last 70 years have been 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2015. “Australia has a clear interest in Antarctica and it also has the capability to show leadership globally in the science, environment and policy arenas,” said Chown. Coursera [00:04:46]: Yeah. Greenland's melting ice may affect everyone's future NASA scientists are trying to understand how this region is responding to climate change—and how that will influence sea levels around the world. So, every part of the world will be affected, and as a result, that just emphasizes to me that this is a global issue that needs a global response. But, conservation of energy will be important as well. Small populations, probably at greater risk. Coursera.org today to enroll for free in his course Mountains 101. Ice lost from the continent surrounding the South Pole is responsible for less than 10% of sea level rise at present. How will changes in temperature affect glaciers and ice sheets? And all of that water is flowing out through the rivers and the lakes and ultimately into the oceans. “There also needs to be enhanced investment in science in the region, better environmental stewardship, and more communication around the significance of the region to the public.”. The Antarctic accounts for 5cm of that. Since the early twentieth century, with few exceptions, glaciers around the world have been retreating at unprecedented rates. A recent study he did found that 80 percent of the glaciers in Alberta and British Columbia could melt in the next 50 years. Things like moratoriums on developing Arctic oil and gas–or both stopping deforestation and active efforts to plant trees and capture carbon in natural ecosystems, forests, wetlands. The Southwest Yukon is home to wild forests and big mountain peaks–the largest ice fields outside of the polar regions. “Human interference with the forcing of the climate system is preventing glaciers from reaching such a new equilibrium anytime soon.”. “No one can predict the magnitude or even the direction of change,” says scientist Alfonso Rivera. As people continue to pump greenhouse gases into the air from burning fossil fuels, this trend is set to continue, Marzeion said. Environment + Climate. Australia is developing a 20-year strategic plan for Antarctica. And the more we understand of that larger context–historical, and present and future–I think the more attentive we can be to make sure that we don’t lose them in the longterm. Today, the Arctic is warming twice as fast as anywhere on earth, and the sea ice there is declining by more than 10% every 10 years. Because glaciers are so sensitive to temperature fluctuations accompanying climate change, direct glacier observation may help answer these questions. Today, the main reason glaciers have begun to melt is because of human activity. “An opportunity exists now to grow that leadership to the benefit of Australians and to society globally.”, Read more on: Nature | Antarctica | Featured | IPCC | Sea Level Rise Nature, More than carbon: securing clean water by protecting forests, Join an online edit-a-thon to contribute climate change information to Wikipedia, Leadership and funding at centre of climate policy study in sub-Saharan Africa, Webinar: How to contribute climate change information to Wikipedia, Woman entrepreneurs fight Covid slump with new business ideas, Brazil must reverse deforestation trends before EU finalises Mercosur trade deal, UK scrambles to decide first post-Brexit climate pledge to the Paris Agreement, Rich countries, remember your $100bn climate commitment to the world’s poor, The damage of four lost years – Climate Weekly, Youth activists demand damages for climate victims at virtual ‘mock Cop26’. We will find out how this data can help us understand the effect of melting glaciers on Canada’s coastline, as well as how and what we could do to stop or slow it down. The predators that are there would probably switch to other prey, to deer or moose or sheep or something like that. And the worrying thing is that 50 percent of the Earth’s surface now has dropped below that 90 percent threshold. By Daniel Strain Oct. 6, 2011 , 2:00 PM. The researchers used computer simulations of the climate to model glacier evolution and checked their results against real world observations. And we work in a social environment, and we work with a community that lives in those places and experience firsthand the changes that occur as a result of warming or other disturbances. Melting glaciers may affect ocean currents Date: June 1, 2011 Source: University of Sheffield Summary: Scientists have used a computer climate … The melting of glaciers and loss of snow has a cascading effect for ecosystems, agriculture and billions of people downstream. There’s a variety of species that I think I’m concerned about, but I think a lot of species will find ways to surprise us. Check out the effects of melting glaciers … Specifically, since the industrial revolution, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions have raised temperatures, even higher in the poles, and as a result, glaciers are rapidly melting, calving off into the sea and retreating on land. But we also talk about climate, and we talk about the role of glaciers as water towers. Climate change is affecting the world now, and one of the most obvious ways is by melting glaciers. A picture showing ice cubes in a measuring cup filled with water before and after the ice melted has been shared several thousand times with the claim that if ice cubes can melt without raising the water level, melting icebergs will also fail to affect world sea levels. And I’ve been studying those environments for all of that time. There’s some other predictors of extinction– habitat loss and fragmentation, susceptibility to invasive species or diseases or parasites. Coursera [00:12:03]: So, when we talk through adapting versus going extinct, are those types of plants and animals–where they’re in a more vulnerable ecosystem, or there’s really just not a place for them to relocate and adapt– are those the ones that you think will be more likely to go extinct versus adapt? “Earlier research indicated that Antarctica would become important in the long term,” said Levermann. Himalayan glaciers melting because of high-altitude dust. And the oceans are getting warmer. Human activity is playing an increasing role in the melting of glaciers, Austrian and Canadian scientists have found. Do you see, from your own experience and work in the Yukon, animal species adapting like this, that you’ve seen firsthand? So, for example, that decrease in the lake level: that affects how people are able to go fishing, or in winter, to travel across the ice safely to trap lines. If we wait for things to fully break down, that is rather late to start to try to restore that damage. Adoption of electric vehicles, more efficient ways of transportation, seem to be being adopted very quickly as well. While the study is a step forward in understanding Antarctica, the researchers said there is room to improve data and modelling of the physical interactions between ice and ocean. By Richard A. Lovett, For National Geographic News. As land and sea undergo rapid changes, the animals that … Perhaps the most talked-about issue and the one of greatest concern is the potential rising of waterways affected by melting glaciers. “Science needs to be clear about the uncertainty, so that decision makers at the coast and in coastal megacities like Shanghai or New York can consider the potential implications in their planning processes.”. Coursera [00:06:24]: Is there anything we can do to slow the melting of the glaciers or prevent that from happening? And I think that’s the risk that we’re trying to mitigate is how much of a decline in species can we see in a particular place without losing the integrity of that system as a whole? They're found in the western United States, Alaska, the mountains of Europe and Asia, and many other parts of the world. I mean, the bottom line is we don’t know how to reconstruct ice sheets or Arctic sea ice or rain forest or coral reefs–or all of the other life support systems on Earth that are a result of natural biodiversity and ecosystems. There’s other species that have been around for a very long time. 2.0 ISSUE OVERVIEW The breaking of continental ice from Greenland and the Antarctic has been slowly breaking off and melting for a long time. Now, that may not seem like very much, but it’s also visible to the eye. “No one can predict the magnitude or even the direction of change,” says scientist Alfonso Rivera. But our concern right now is that the rate of change in the climate system– the change in temperature, change in snow change in precipitation–is occurring so quickly that they can’t adapt quickly enough. And so, anywhere on coastlines in every country around the Earth, where people live within a meter of the current high-tide level, will be experiencing a higher frequency of storm surges, an inundation of flooding. What does the melting of glaciers mean to drinking water-its availability and its safety? Because this is happening, X, Y, and Z are also going to happen?. And while we might zoom in on one species, like a pica, those individuals live within a much larger context. The Potsdam study suggests the picture could be even more serious. So, I always think of a landscape, whether it’s a mountain or a coral reef or a forest in terms of those interconnections. That’s what we’re seeing in the parts of the world that are changing most rapidly, and that fundamentally is a one-way street as the Earth gets warmer and is what precipitates all of these other changes in the system. Environment. Recent years have seen hundreds of billions of tonnes of ice lost - and a rough guide to the effect on sea level is that 362 billion tonnes of melt raises the average ocean level by a millimetre. The initial effect on individuals and on the world will be relatively small, but the cumulative effect of that overtime is going to be huge.