sea ice

Earth’s Changes in Surprising Ways as Ice Melts

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FEB1JILLThis article in the Daily Beast confirms a simple truth. As we lose large areas of ice cover, the earth changes in dramatic ways. When I wrote the movie Ice Island in 2000, I learned that the ice was so thick over Antarctic that is squeezed the earth into a slight pear shape. The large mass also affects gravity and as we shift mass around the planet by melting ice, there are documentable changes that are happening very quickly. The Daily Beast sums it up well.

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Midnight Glacier

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Sea ice is declining in the Arctic, but that loss is not directly responsible for rising sea level. Think about a cold drink filled with ice cubes. When the cubes melt, the glass will not overflow. When a glacier or ice sheet on land melts, it directly contributes to more water in the ocean and rising sea level. These photos depict part of the Greenland Ice Sheet where it meets the sea and calves into the ocean. As solid as it looks, it is moving like a river and breaking off into the sea creating icebergs we have seen on our entire journey. I sat on a hilltop in Ilulissat listening to the sound of global climate change… distant cracks and thunderous roars of ice breaking into the sea. It was midnight under a glorious canopy of orange clouds. No photos will ever totally capture this place.

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Polar Bears Need Sea Ice

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Some people wonder why it matters when the climate changes and sea ice melts. Travel with this family of polar bears as they search for sea ice that is central to their efforts to find food.

This beautiful short from Arctic Bear Productions on the GoPro YouTube channel depicts a family of polar bears on their quest to find a place to rest: sea ice.

While this footage is stunning, its message is quite somber. Eventually, the bears reach land, but do not find ice. There’s a reason for this. Polar bears need sea ice to hunt seals — but, because of climate change, this ice is melting.

This may have drastic consequences for the future of the species, who are currently listed as vulnerable on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species.

“Due to their long generation time and the current greater speed of global warming, it seems unlikely that polar bear will be able to adapt to the current warming trend in the Arctic,” the IUCN explains.

If climatic trends continue, polar bears face a significant population decline this century.

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