One of the effects of global warming is the melting of the poles. The images of the North Pole melting, or the rate of Antarctic thawing having quadrupled in the last 25 years, is causing very negative consequences.
And the worst thing is that, if we don’t stop this melting of the poles, it’s going to get worse very quickly.
What are these consequences of the melting of the polar ice caps?
We’ll tell you about them in a simple way.
1. The rise in sea level
The first direct consequence is that the loss of ice leads to a rise in sea level. Specifically, the accelerated melting of Antarctica, which has already lost almost 3 billion tons in the last quarter century, has contributed about 7.6 millimeters.
It doesn’t seem like much, but it is and, in addition, it is accelerating at a very high rate.
According to some forecasts, the rise in sea level could be between 42 and 85 centimeters by 2100 and more than a meter and a half by 2150.
What is the direct problem with the rise in sea level?
The first direct consequence is that the loss of ice leads to a rise in sea level.
2. The disappearance of cities and coasts
The most rapid consequence of this rise in sea level is the disappearance of some cities. Venice or Amsterdam, for example, are two cities that historically fight the sea so that it does not engulf them.
With climate change and the melting of the poles, it will eventually become unsustainable. Like these cities there are more, but they are not the only ones.
11 of the 15 most important cities in the world are coastal. Therefore, the impact of this sea level rise can have devastating consequences on a large part of the population.
If it keeps up, peninsulas like Florida will disappear and the hills of San Francisco will become islands. Large cities like Sanghai, Hong Kong, The Hague or Osaka may also bear the brunt.
More than 30 million people live in them alone.
3. Migratory flows and economic destabilization
It is not only the landscape of coastal cities that will change radically. Approximately 11% of the world’s inhabitants live less than 11 meters above sea level.
That’s more than 800 million people who will be directly affected by the melting of the poles. They will be forced to move or radically change their lives, but that’s not all. The number of people affected in some indirect way is impossible to calculate.
Moreover, we must bear in mind that we do not live alone on the planet.
4. Serious alteration of the balance of the ecosystems
Just as we will have to move and adapt, so will the flora and fauna of the affected lands and seas. This endangers entire ecosystems and the ecological balance of the planet.
New species are invading coasts and eliminating the native fauna, others will be displaced by the change of their environment and the flooding…
Moreover, we are not only talking about the melting of the poles. Apart from the Arctic and Antarctica, there are other areas to consider, such as Greenland or Alaska. The former alone lost more than 300 gigatons of ice in 2014 according to NASA. That’s more than 300 million tons and three times more than the melting of the South Pole that year.
Phenomena like these completely change the landscape of the place and its ecosystem, in addition to affecting the rest, because everything depends on a balance.
5. Emergence of diseases
One of the most unknown consequences of the melting of the poles and other frozen surfaces is the reappearance of diseases. For example, melting of permafrost (the ice layer covering polar or other land surfaces) in Siberia produced in 2016 the appearance of anthrax.
Apparently, the carcass of a frozen reindeer, which emerged from the thaw, was a carrier of the disease. Free from the protection that was supposed to be under the ice since the appearance of that epidemic in the early twentieth century in the area, again affected the local animal population and thousands of animals had to be slaughtered to address the crisis.
6. Changes in marine currents and climate
Another consequence of the melting of the poles is the change in the salinity of the water. The polar ice does not contain it and, as it melts in the sea, the fresh water stays more on the surface.
This causes the marine currents to be affected, changing. This not only generates a serious effect on marine ecosystems, but also on the climate. The Gulf Stream and its temperature, for example, affect the climate of North America and Europe, which means that the melting of the poles goes far beyond the rise in sea level.
As we see, the planet lives in a balance whose alteration causes very serious consequences. The melting of the poles is one of the main factors that give it