Climate Change: A Greenland Perspective Essay

1327 words - 5 pages

Climate Change: A Greenland Perspective
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Climate change is the alteration of temperature and precipitation patterns over an extended period of time. Across the globe, scientists are identifying climate change in relation to the greenhouse gas emissions and solar cycles. While most researchers believe that the increase of atmospheric CO2 is effecting global warming, others are endorsing the concerns of another Ice Age, which is likely to occur due to orbital variations of the Earth. In his article, Abrupt Climate Change, Richard Alley titles one section, ?Chilling Warmth,?15 which perfectly describes the angst of many people who foresee a deadly warming trend, and also the paradox of global warming causing another ?Little Ice Age.? These competing discourses are extremely pertinent to the country of Greenland, which is at the forefront of the climatic change debate.

Greenland and other Arctic countries continue to be at the head of the discussion on climate change, whether due to melting ice caps, or advancing glaciers. Our understanding of climate change across the world has been possible due to Greenland?s ice cores; proxy records, such as O18 dating, reveal atmospheric air temperatures at which the sheets of ice were formed.16 Oxygen in the ice cores can also reconstruct the history of precipitation. Greenland remains a critical story teller of cooling and warming trends, since the 1990s, when scientists first started to extract from the gigantic sheets of ice.17

Scientists who view increased CO2 emissions as directly related to a warming climate are radically concerned for the outcomes of warming oceans, rising sea levels, and higher precipitation levels. For example, in an article for National Geographic News, entitled, Greenland Melt May Swamp LA, Other Cities, Study Says, author, Stefan Lovgren, discusses the devastating effects of the melting of Greenland?s massive ice sheets. He cites a new study that states that the melting of Greenland?s ice cap could raise the oceans by twenty three feet (seven meters), which would submerge low-lying coastal regions and other cities located at sea level, stretching from Los Angeles to London.18 The rising sea levels and increased rainfall in the Arctic could bring about horrific floods and severe storms across the globe.

The increase in the greenhouse gases from global warming, which the Kyoto Protocol is working to counteract, may cause an uprooting of ecosystems around the globe. In Greenland, the melting of ice caps would cause rising sea levels, a slowing of the thermohaline circulation, and a reduction of salinity; the nearby ocean current systems, which influence the sea?s temperature and salinity, would affect the distribution of organisms.19 Climate change is directly related to the conservation and preservation of species, genetic, and ecosystem biodiversity. Since the last ice age, in Greenland, in which mostly all of life became extinct, the plants,...

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