Melting Antarctica! What this means

I will begin with an over idea, the Antarctica and the Greenland ice is melting faster than we can imagine. The Antarctica holds icy waters and of course nature creation and the bib bang theory, whichever you ascribe to made sure the continent was covered with ice. However according to scientists and environmentalists these ice sheets are melting. Many people have chosen to believe the idea while others generally known as climate deniers have vehemently denied it.

In any case should the Antarctica be melting because of the temperature increases facilitated by human-related activities are we safe? in the event that the ice sheets are melting we are heading to a really proper global mess.

About three million years earlier these ice sheets melted and all the extra water released into the oceans facilitated a sea level rise of about 17 meters higher than they are today. Therefore the understanding of the Antarctica and the green land ice sheets have big implications for the current and the future generations. Generally the consumptive human nature currently has adjusted the world temperatures and as WMO states, this century has been the warmest, therefore we have kind of committed ourselves to a future and it’s not gonna be pretty.

The two icy humongous sheets, if they will continue to melt at the current rate, are going to reshape the world coastlines, inundate beautiful luxurious coastal homes, as well as the basic coastal homes Inhabited by millions of the human race and in some cases island nations, may actually inundated to a piece of standing rock. Rising sea levels will not just swamp your backyard and recede back to the oceans no, every centimeter increase in water volumes leads to the changes in ocean probability density functions that alter the pattern of storm surges and tsunamis, with more of these coastal islands and the humongous infrastructure facing a real threat of trouble in the preceding century.

During one of the focus group meetings with the community members deriving a livelihood at the coast of Kenya, melting ice sheets is not an issue as one puts in. They are grateful that when these drastic changes happen they will be long dead and it’s up to their siblings who are not even born to help themselves in case we continue warming the earth and the ice sheets melting up.

Why the melting mayhem

A satellite image showing the minimum concentration of Arctic sea ice in 2005. The yellow outline indicates where the concentration of ice was in September 1979. Photograph: NASA/AFP/Getty Images (Terry calisster)
A satellite image showing the minimum concentration of Arctic sea ice in 2005. The yellow outline indicates where the concentration of ice was in September 1979. Photograph: NASA/AFP/Getty Images (Terry calisster)

The main reasons why the giant ice sheets are melting is first the foremost according to the intergovernmental panel on climate change, the increased surface temperatures that are allowing the ice sheets to melt off and drop in the oceans. This is leading to an increase from 0.18 m to 0.59m sea level change. Second of all the melt is also exacerbated and the thermal expansion of the sea waters is increasing water levels in the oceans and also facilitating sea level changes. The other factor leading to increasing in sea levels is the warming of the glaciers especially in summer around the world also adding a percentage to the available ocean waters.

West and East Antarctica ice sheets
This ice sheet has been shown by studies to be melting faster, with current research on its earlier characteristics revealing that the ice sheet once pushed the ice sheet once pushed the sea level rise up by 3 meters. According to a recent publication by McMillan in 2014, since 2010 the average Antarctic ice sheet contribution to global sea level rise has been 0.45mm plus and minus 0.144 mm annually contributing up to 4.5 m increase in the global sea level.This ice sheet has been shown to be undergoing some form of instability making it prone to further faster than anticipated melting at rates of up to 159 billion tons of ice per year. The same ice sheet and the Greenland ice sheets are quickly retreating due to the existence of deep inland submarine valleys, up to 31 kilometers under the ice sheet. The east Antarctica ice sheet has been established to be relatively stable as compared to the west and Holocene based modeled research shows that the sheet may have contributed to about 14m of sea level during the Pliocene period where atmospheric carbon dioxide was equivalent to today’s (400 parts per million in the atmosphere right now), with temperatures between 2 and 3 degrees Celsius above where they were before the industrial revolution where fossil fuels got into the picture.

Though the characteristics of the ice sheets are unpredictable and may change suddenly, a sea level rise of up to 5m in the coming century has been suggested by independent researchers especially based on the anthropogenic climate forcing. These findings are not necessarily gloomy if the human race takes mitigation action especially the deliberate reduction of emissions from all available sources. Unfortunately, Kenya is doing good in planning to increase greenhouse gas emissions because we need the fossil fuels to be ‘developed’.

Can we stop this melting?
From a scientific perspective, others argue that for the coming millennium we have committed ourselves to the damages since the temperatures and the atmospheric carbon dioxides are looming at the highest. The need to urgently consider the mitigative option and the impacts of our choices today have tremendous impacts on the planet’s future. It’s is essentially the decisions we are making now that will determine if we cross those thresholds.

In the projections, 1 meter to 3 m sea level rise is plausible if we do not change our consumptive nature we are committing to rapid sea level changes on behalf of the future generations.

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