Planet Earth, ESSC 103
This article discusses how scientists are discovering a rapid increase in the melting of Earth’s glaciers and ice sheets. The glaciers and ice sheets are no longer melting at a slow steady rate. In some cases scientists have seen the increase is almost doubling in some areas. Within the next century our glaciers and ice sheets could possibly be gone. It is believed that global warming is a big factor in the melting of the glaciers and ice sheets. Global warming occurs when an increase in a planet's surface temperature caused by the absorption of infrared radiation by gases in the atmosphere, including carbon dioxide, methane, and water vapor. Incoming short wavelength radiation passes through, but longer wavelengths reradiated from the surface are blocked by the greenhouse gases. These gases created through human industrial and agricultural practices from burning fossil fuels and wood are said to increase the heat-reflecting potential of the atmosphere. This in turn causes our global temperature to rise. These affects can be seen in the Chacaltaya ski area. Since 1939 people have been coming to the ski resort set high in the Andes Mountains of Bolivia. At 17,250 ft. it was considered the highest ski resort in the world. Now and within the last couple decades the slopes are disappearing. What used to be a mountain of beautiful ski slopes are now reduced to patches of gritty ice and boulders, and it appears to be speeding up. As the melting occurs scientist believe that the melting begets more melting and the ice shrinks even faster. One cause of this in Chacaltaya is the newly exposed dark rocks around the glacier. The rocks absorb heat from the sun and speeds up the process. El Niño’s are also a big factor. This occurs when equatorial waters heat up. This displaces weather patterns all over the globe. Causing wet... [continues]
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