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Global Climate Change: Assessing the Importance of the Roles of Ice Cover and Glacial Changes
Issues of water security are rapidly becoming more widely recognized as impacted. Increased levels of carbon dioxide are clearly evident and long-term temperature increases are clearly evident. These indicators are being used to compile evidence that sea level rise in the future will be between 0.3 and 1.0 m by 2100 and, combined with more severe storms along coastlines, will translate into increasing challenges for coastal cities. The enormous glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica will continue to contribute to sea level rise but fortunately, at modest levels, for thousands of years. On the other hand, land-based glaciers will continue to become depleted and the ramifications to agricultural practices are expected to be profound, with situations of significant percentages of the world’s land-based glaciers being lost by 2100. Further, the disappearance rate of the Arctic Ocean ice cover is already profoundly evident, with losses of ice cover of about 13.1 percent per decade now occurring. Rates of warming in the Arctic are increasing at two to three times the global annual average and warrant further forecasting of the implications. With the reduced ice cover, the water in the Arctic Ocean is now absorbing the energy from the sun, not reflecting the sun’s energy, thereby accelerating further ice cover melting. The result is that the jet stream is weakening and evidence is mounting that there will be increased excursions of the polar vortex causing very cold weather extremes in northern hemisphere areas.
Keywords: climate change, Arctic Ocean, polar vortex, sea level rise, glaciers, land-based glaciers
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