An ice cap is a thick layer of ice and snow that is believed to cover almost 50, 000 square kilometers. Ice that covers more than 50,000 square kilometers is called ice sheet. Global warming has brought a lot of effects on glaciers and ice caps on the earth. The melting of ice caps affects the environment in the following ways:
Rising sea level
Rising temperatures can cause ice to break off from glaciers and fall into the sea or ocean. The result is, water will be displaced causing sea levels to rise. For instance, Antarctica with 2,133 meters of ice, if all of this ice could break up, the ocean can rise to about 200 feet. It will displace people or have profound effects on cities that are near the oceans during the time of a storm.
Disappearance of mountain peaks
In 20 years time, mountain peaks are expected to be gone. Melting of ice will mainly affect mountains in Africa because they are right at the equator. Changes in air temperature in Ruwenzori Mountains are causing glaciers to decrease, hence, letting mosquitoes live where they were not supposed to exist. It will cause a faster spread of malaria disease that is considered a killer disease. The mountains also are natural barriers between enemy communities. If these ice mountain caps disappear, these communities will kill each other.
Danger to the native wildlife
Many species of animals that are considered endangered also live in these mountains with ice caps. Animals like elephants and chimpanzees will be all gone if these ice caps melt. That is not all, 89 species of birds are also in danger. The Adelies, for instance, have a declining trend each year from 32,000 to 10,000. Their breeding cycle is highly affected because they depend on sea ice to forage at sea.
Disappearance of natural rivers
Ice caps from the mountains contribute water to tributaries that together form streams. For example, River Nile is a beneficially of these ice caps. Now, melting of ice caps will lead to their disappearance, and these rivers will not have water sources anymore. Wildlife and human beings will, therefore, be in danger.
Reflection of light is hindered
Some of the light that falls upon the surface of the earth is reflected back into space directly. The process is important because the more reflected away the light is, the less energy is available for heating. Therefore, if the planet is covered with ice, reflectivity will be automatically hindered leading to low temperatures on earth. So if the ice caps melt, reflectivity’s of the Earth will also decrease because more solar energy is available. The result is having a high temperature on earth and losing our natural coolant.
Global warming is significantly affecting our continent and how we live in it. Both living and non-living things will face a lot of challenges. Let’s identify the problem and curb it to save our lives. The melting of ice caps may not seem so bad but it is a warning sign of what is just right ahead of us, and it affects every aspect of life on earth.