Studies from the United Nations showed that 2015 was the hottest year ever recorded. The report came after a super El Niño elevated temperatures all around the world. However, this doesn’t solely apply to warmer weather. Recently, the winter of 2018-2019 had temperatures in the Midwest dropping as low as -55° Fahrenheit. These extreme weather conditions are effects of global warming and if not addressed, will have irreversible changes on the planet.
In the Canadian Arctic, the Barnes Ice Cap glacier is all that is left of the Laurentide Ice Sheet, the gigantic ice sheet that once covered most of North America during the Ice Age. Studies say that it has been predicted to completely vanish in the next 300 years. This is due to a major rise in greenhouse gasses over the past few decades. Scientists say that while the disappearance of this ice cap, roughly the size of Delaware, isn't a huge global concern on its own, it could be a precursor of what could happen to the larger ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. The warmer Arctic air temperatures are leaving the area more vulnerable to warm air masses that have been thinning glaciers. Scientists researching the Barnes Ice Cap have said that if it disappears, its loss will be permanent.
Studies have shown that the ice cap loses about a foot of height and approximately three feet near the margins every year. On that schedule, if greenhouse gasses are being produced at the same rate, the glacier expected to disappear close to 2300. According to a study published in December 2018, in 2012 alone, the Greenland ice sheet melted roughly the equivalent of 240 million Olympic sized swimming pools into the Arctic Ocean.
The same thing is happening around the world. For instance, in the South Pole ice shelves the size of states are breaking away and becoming massive icebergs that will
eventually melt and contribute to higher sea levels. Another example of this is Glacier National Park, which was established by President Howard Taft in 1910. At that time, it had roughly 150 glaciers, but in just over a century that number has plummeted to only 30. Researchers also believe that most central and eastern Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 3035. And recent studies suggest that the famed snows of Kilimanjaro have melted more than 80 percent since 1912. Because of melting snows and ice, the sea level has risen 10-20 centimeters in the past century.
Researchers have said that rising air and sea temperatures, earlier snow melt, reductions in sea ice, thawing permafrost, more erosion and increases in storm intensity will be the most visible impacts of global warming. Recently, these effects have all been documented in a single place - Alaska.
The UN has predicted that the people of the world have 12 years to reverse the damage to the climate or else that damage will be irreversible. To begin to make a change, people must start working together to prevent warmer temperatures and rising greenhouse gasses so that we can preserve our ice caps, glaciers, and ensure a stable climate for generations to come.
The Chicago Tribune, National Geographic