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The Melting of the Polar Ice Caps - Research Paper Example

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Name: Instructor: Course: Date: The melting of the polar ice caps Despite the conflicting resolutions made by environmental experts and scientists on the causes and extent of global warming, the sad reality is that global warming has been occurring and it keeps getting worse each day…
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The Melting of the Polar Ice Caps
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Download file to see previous pages Without a doubt, the earth’s climate has changed over the years. Though most of these changes could be attributed to variations in the orbit of the earth which lead to changes in energy from the sun that reaches the earth’s surface, current trends suggest that most of these effects are as a result of anthropogenic activities and processes over time. With the advent of technology, data collection and analysis are rarely inconclusive. This becomes possible through the use of satellites that go round the earth’s orbit in successions collecting a wide array of information on the earth and the ever dynamic climate. The study and analysis of this climatic data has always given evidence to the occurrence of global warming (Patterson 19). Rapid increase of temperature over time is an example. Temperature increase has mostly been experienced in the 1970s. The warmest 20 years got recorded to have occurred after 1981, while the warmest 10 years got recorded in the past 12 years. Though the 2000s experienced a stint of solar output reduction that led to a sharp solar minimum especially between 2007 and 2009, surface temperature kept rising. Most of this unprecedented heat gets absorbed by the water bodies. Lakes and oceans take up most of this energy with the upmost 700 meters of ocean water indicating warming of about 0.302 degree Fahrenheit in 20 years (Vardiman 12). Ocean acidification is also an indication of global warming to some extent. Due to the Industrial Revolution, the acidity of the surface water has risen by over 30 percent. This becomes largely attributed to the rampant emission of green house gases like methane and carbon dioxide into the air, which gets later taken up by the surface water. Recent trends have shown that the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by the topmost layer of surface waters is increasing by over 2 billion tons each year. The concept of how green house gases cause global warming gets largely misunderstood. The largest bulk of green house gases gets taken up by carbon dioxide. These gases do not prevent radiation from getting to the earth’s surface due to the short wavelength of light. Upon reaching the surface of the earth, some of the radiation gets absorbed by the earth’s surface and surface water bodies. What gets left of the radiation gets reflected back to the atmosphere. When solar radiation gets radiated back to the surface, it usually has a longer wavelength. As a result, it cannot penetrate the green house gases in the atmosphere thereby getting trapped. This leads to increase in atmospheric temperature (Maslin 99). Carbon dioxide atmospheric concentration levels have risen from an average of 270 parts per million (ppm) to the current 380 parts per million (ppm), a sharp increase of 30 percent. Methane gas also contributes to global warming. It is much lethal compared to other green house gases and exists in lower concentrations in the atmosphere. The melting of glaciers gets directly attributed to global warming. Though melting of glaciers is a natural process, the rate of glacial melt has been increasing rapidly. The fresh snow that gets formed is not adequate enough to replace the rapidly melting snow. The size of the glaciers keeps reducing. As surface temperatures keep increasing, it is only natural that the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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