4 May 2011, 15:39

Arctic ice is melting fast

Arctic ice is melting fast

Experts of the “Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme” say that the Arctic ice is melting faster than had been predicted and that the levels of the world oceans may increase by one and half meters in this century.

Experts of the “Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme” say that the Arctic ice is melting faster than had been predicted and that the levels of the world oceans may increase by one and half meters in this century.

The experts are divided though, with some blaming man’s activity for the melting of the Arctic ice and the consequent warming of the climate, while others assert that there is nothing unusual in the ongoing process. Ice has been melting from time immemorial, altering the flow of oceans and causing climate change, the skeptics argue.  Old ice disappeared and a new one appeared in other places. Therefore, man cannot be held responsible for the changes occurring in the world. The average temperature in the world will still rise by 3-6 degrees Celsius even if the emission of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere is reduced substantially, says Vladimir Sokolov, deputy director of the Institute for the Arctic and Antarctic.

“To large extent, man’s activity is localized and quite insignificant to influence the processes on earth in the scale we are witnessing” Sokolov said.

The reduction of the “northern ice cap” does not necessarily mean that all the coastal islands and zones will be submerged in water, says Sokolov.

The melting of sea ice will not lead to a rise in the level of the ocean, but a rise in the level of the ocean could be caused by the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic glaciers, Sokolov said.

For the sake of  fairness, it is necessary to point out that the  Antarctic is steady, but Greenland has been  affected by the melting of the ice, but  the ice there will not  disappear completely, Sokolov assures. The sun is hidden for 6 months in the year in the region and the formation of ice carpet is inevitable, he said.

In summer, a large part of the Arctic Ocean looses significant ice each year. But if nature interferes in this habitual process, man will benefit economically, in part, passage through the northern sea route will no longer require the help of icebreakers.

But a number of experts warn against high expectations because climatic behaviour is not easy to predict. High temperatures can turn into a cold spell at any time. Water from melting ice can flow into the Atlantic ocean to interfere in its circulation and  alter the direction of the Gulfstream. Such had happened on the planet  13 thousand years ago. It led to an ice period which lasted  for hundreds of years.    

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