So what causes 0.8 trillion tons of ice around the world to evaporate every year? Check out the article below to know why ice melts and the role of ice in the environment today. Thereby, we hope everyone will have a better overview of the current climate change issue and help lead a green lifestyle to minimize climate change.

Ice forms in nature

Based on geographical location, ice can be divided into two types: Alpine glaciers and ice sheets.

Regarding alpine glaciers:

This is the form of ice formed on the slopes of mountains and moved down the valleys. In some cases, this form of ice will create valleys after clearing the dirt in their path. Alpine glaciers are found in many high mountain areas.

For continental ice sheets (Ice Sheet):

In contrast to mountain ice, ice sheets exist in the form of long horizontal sheets and form domes with many different directions of movement based on the direction of the wind. When the ice is spread, they can cover the entire valleys, plains, and entire mountains. Large ice sheets concentrate in Antarctica and the Greenland – Arctic region.

What is the process of ice formation and growth?

The process of melting ice takes place based on an accretion cycle. As it snows, the ice will build up and compress the snow until it thickens and turns the light and soft snow crystals to round and hard shapes. After compaction, the snow becomes thick layers of ice called firn. The above process is called solidification. After many years, the ice layer will pile up to a sufficiently thick level (about 50m). The block of ice will begin to move because of its weight, and the snow will melt without any increase in temperature.

At this time, alpine glaciers slowly flow down into the valley. Some glaciers, known as hanging glaciers, do not flow the entire length of a mountain. Avalanches transfer the ice from a hanging glacier to a larger glacier below them or directly into the valley below.

As for the ice sheets, they will move based on the principle of spreading from the center. That is, the ice will spread in many directions until it covers everything in its path.

So from what we learn above, it can be seen that melting ice was part of the creation of ice continents. However, after the outbreak of the industrial revolution, the phenomenon of melting ice became more damaging because of climate change.

The role of ice in nature.

Providing a significant amount of fresh water on Earth: Ice sheets and alpine glaciers store nearly 70% of the global freshwater. Ice is an essential component of the global water cycle.

Balancing the Earth’s temperature: Acting as the Earth’s conditioning system, ice sheets reflect 80% of the sun’s radiation, slowing down global warming dramatically.

Maintaining a diversity of flora and fauna ecosystem: Currently, alpine glaciers and ice sheets are home to 19 species of birds and 16 species of animals such as seals, polar bears, etc.

Causes of excessive ice melting

According to recent statistics, each year, the Earth loses about 0.8 trillion tons of ice, and this increased rate will not stop. In Greenland and Antarctica, the amount of melting ice is six times faster than in the 1990s. Because of the effects of extreme climate change, especially from post-revolutionary global warming, the process of ice melting takes place more strongly. Here are 2 main reasons:

Change in the airflow:

Global warming is changing the winds blowing in the Antarctic fringes, accelerating the melting of the West Antarctic ice sheet. Winds gradually change in both speed and temperature due to climate change. Temperatures in the tropics rise faster than in Antarctica and south of Oceania. The wind is created by the contrast in temperatures of different regions. As a result, the growing temperature difference between the equator and the South Pole is both strengthening and heating the winds that blow across the ice continents.

Change in sea temperature:

Global warming will cause the temperature of seawater to increase. According to the IUCN report, the average temperature of the Earth’s seas has risen by 0.13 degrees Celsius. This led to a significant influence on the ice sheets. According to a University of California study, if the ocean warms up, it will melt the ice below and cause the ice sheets to melt faster than usual. 

Consequences of excessive ice melting

As mentioned, the current ice loss is about 0.8 trillion tons. This leads to a variety of consequences, including:

Effects on marine ecosystems.

Excessive ice melting will release a large amount of freshwater into the ocean, affecting species such as corals when they cannot adapt to the environment.

Rising sea level:

The ice melting will cause a sudden increase in water flowing into other water bodies such as in rivers and lakes. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) projections, if all of the ice were to melt, global sea levels would rise by about 70 meters (about 230 feet), causing flooding at every coastal city.

Threatening the habitat of animals.

In rivers and ice sheets, there are many species of animals. When the ice melts too much, the animals that live on it will have to adapt or perish. Species that will be affected include polar bears, walruses, arctic foxes, etc.

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