What is global warming? Global warming is the theory that the world's average temperature is increasing due to the burning of fossil fuels and other forms of energy. This increase results in higher atmospheric concentrations of gases such as carbon dioxide. Due to these changes, global warming can affect three major ecosystems: Polar, Mountain, and Marine.
Global warming is felt the strongest in the Earth's Polar Regions. Over the past century temperatures have climbed by 4º F (2.4ºC) in some polar regions, whereas the global average increase is 1ºF (0.6ºC). With the rising temperatures, weather conditions are becoming so harsh in polar ecosystems that it is difficult to maintain a delicate balance.
Average temperatures in the Arctic region are rising twice as fast as they are in other places in the world, which is causing the ice to get thinner and thus more prone to breaking. Located on the north coast of Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, Canada, the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf is an example. Once the largest single block of ice in the Arctic, the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf is about 3,000 years old, and began cracking in the year 2000 . By 2002, it had broken all the way through, and today it is breaking up into several pieces. The breaking of the Ward Hut Ice Shelf has caused major problems; consequently it has forced polar bears, whales, and walrus to change their hunting territories and coastal villages are being flooded.
In Alaska, there are about 2,000 valley glaciers. Glaciers are defined as a slowly moving mass or river of ice formed by the accumulation and compaction of snow on mountains or near the poles. Today, less than 20 are still advancing, according to Bruce Molina, a geologist at the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Instead, most of all the glaciers in Alaska are melting due to global warming.
In 2001, the Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted that by 2100 there will be a “major ice loss”. Then in 2007, the year they...
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