East Antarctic Ice is Melting; Intense Wildfires are Common; What Can We Do About This Dire Concern:


Art by Michelle Dong

Because of the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus, the human population has been disregarding other global issues, including global warming and climate change. Global warming can be defined as the “phenomenon of increasing average air temperatures near the surface of Earth over the past one to two centuries” (Britannica Encyclopedia), and climate change can be defined as the “long-term alteration of temperature and typical weather patterns in a certain location” (National Geographic). Currently, on Earth, some disastrous events that have been occurring due to climate change  include the rapid melting of the coldest regions of Antarctica, and intense arctic wildfires that created more CO2 than the Australian fires. 


As many people may already know, there is no place on Earth that is colder than East Antarctica. The ice sheets that make up this area of land formed over tens of millions of years, making the sheets around three miles at the thickest areas. Antarctica has been melting for several decades now; however, due to the rapidly rising temperatures and the disregard for climate change currently, parts of the East Antarctic are melting much more quickly. According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), global warming is responsible for up to 20% of the continent’s ice loss before 2019 (Jones, 2019). In previous years, it was difficult to be sure of exactly what was happening to these massive ice sheets, due to the limited satellite images and actual data. On the contrary, currently, many climate scientists are rushing to be able to calculate what is occurring. According to findings published in Science on May 28, 2020, the ice has been retreating more than 150 feet per day for at least 90 days (Berwyn, 2020). Twila Moon, an Arctic ice researcher, states that there is enough ice left on the ice sheets of Antarctica to increase the sea level to 200 feet, which can consequently bring harm to many people, especially considering that large numbers of people who live in coastal areas already have their properties at risk. Some consequences that could follow ignorance to this issue could be increased numbers of flooding annually, saltwater intrusions into drinking waters, and coastal erosion (Moon, 2020). 


Another transpiring issue due to the rise of temperatures is the large number of arctic fires. Yes, arctic fires have been occurring for a while now; however during June and July, Siberia hit record-high temperatures (UNFCCC, 2020). The temperatures have been recorded to be almost double the normal 20 degrees Celsius during the summer. This led to a large number of intense wildfires releasing an immense amount of polluting gases into the Earth’s atmosphere (Sengupta, 2020). Mark Parrington, a fire specialist, states that the higher temperatures and drier surface conditions provide ideal conditions for these fires to stay alive for longer periods of time and for larger areas of land. To add onto the already rapidly increasing temperature of the Earth, these wildfires provide more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, further contributing to global warming. Scientists also claim that these fires can thaw the Arctic permafrost, decomposing the organic matter that is currently in the frozen ground (Sengupta, 2020). Although the increased number of arctic fires is a dire concern, the rising of temperatures seems to be even more problematic, according to scientists. This is mainly because the rapid increase in temperature proves that climate change is accelerating at a much faster pace than anticipated. It doesn’t help that additional carbon dioxide is added into the atmosphere due to the many wildfires around the globe. 


The biggest problem in the human population is the ignorance to the topic, or rather not doing anything about such a distressing issue. There are many simple activities that anyone could do to help prevent the increase in  global warming. One of the easiest ways to slow global warming would be by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide emissions. One thing anyone could do is to power his or her home with renewable energy, such as wind or solar energy. These are great alternatives to using fossil fuels in everyday activities. To follow up with this, it would be ideal to consider investing  in energy-efficient appliances. “Since they were first implemented nationally in 1987, efficiency standards for dozens of appliances and products have kept 2.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide out of the air” (Denchak, 2017). This is the cheapest way to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions! Something that might be surprising is to eat all the food you buy, and make less of it meat. Haq says that if you waste less food, you are likely also cutting down on energy consumption due to the fact that so much energy goes into growing, processing, packaging, and shipping the food people buy and eat, and sometimes waste. Lastly, maintain your ride. What Denchak means by that is to make sure your car, bike, or motorcycle is in good shape. If all Americans kept their tires inflated, around 1.2 billion gallons of gas can be saved. Imagine how much carbon dioxide people are releasing into the environment just by forgetting to keep their tires inflated! There are many simple and  easy ways that people could help reduce carbon dioxide emissions, therefore slowing the global warming of this planet. 



References


"An Arctic on Fire Raises Dire Concerns for Climate Change and Pollution Levels." Environmental Protection, 9 July 2020, eponline.com/articles/2020/07/09/an-arctic-on-fire-raises-dire-concerns-

for-climate-change-and-pollution-levels.aspx?m=1. Accessed 13 July 2020.


Berwyn, Bob. "Antarctic Ocean Reveals New Signs of Rapid Melt of Ancient Ice, Clues about Future Sea Level Rise." Inside Climate News, 28 May 2020,

insideclimatenews.org/news/28052020/antarctic-ocean-ice-melt-climate-change. Accessed 13 July 2020.


Denchak, Melissa. "How You Can Stop Global Warming." NRDC, 17 July 2017,

www.nrdc.org/stories/how-you-can-stop-global-warming. Accessed 13 July 2020.

Jones, Nicola. "Polar Warning: Even Antarctica's Coldest Region Is Starting to Melt." Yale Environment


360, 28 Mar. 2019, e360.yale.edu/features/polar-warning-even-antarctica-coldest-region-is-

starting-to-melt. Accessed 13 July 2020.


Sengupta, Somini. "Intense Arctic Wildfires Set a Pollution Record." The New York Times, 7 July 2020,

www.nytimes.com/2020/07/07/climate/climate-change-arctic-fires.html. Accessed 13 July 2020.



#globalwarming #arcticmelting #risingsealevels #nature



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