How Is the Earths Cryosphere Shrinking by 87000 Square Kilometers Per Year?

environment, science
earths cryosphere
earths cryosphere (Click here for original source image)

How is the Earths Cryosphere Shrinking? There are many theories as to how this happens but most scientists agree that global warming is a factor. One theory suggests that this phenomenon is caused by the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Other scientists think it is caused by a rapid decline in the thickness of the ice.

Global Dimming of the Earths Cryosphere Since 1970 The theory that global dimming of the Earths cryosphere is caused by global warming is based on the observation that there has been a steady rise in Earths temperatures over this period of time. Over the past couple of decades, global average temperatures have increased by about two degrees Celsius. This increase in temperatures has caused the Earths surface to warm up. When the surface temperature of the Earths surfaces warm, the water condenses and eventually takes the form of clouds. As a result, the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere increases.

Ocean Decline and Melting of the Earths Ice Another theory on the decline of the Earths ice holds that this phenomenon is caused by global warming. Global warming causes the surface of the Earths ice to melt. As more ice melts, it adds weight to the upper ocean which causes the rate of sea ice to decline. When this process occurs, the rate of melting of the Arctic Ocean also increases. As a result, methane bubbles begin to build up in the Arctic Ocean. As more methane bubbles build up, this will result in an increased amount of heat being removed from the Earths atmosphere.

Ocean Bursts and Ice Squeeze Another theory on the subject of ocean and ice melt involves the release of large amounts of heat into the atmosphere as a result of large ocean “bursts”. These ocean “bursts” can be triggered by a number of different factors. One such factor is the increase in atmospheric humidity. Air temperatures rise after a “storm” and then fall again after a “cooling storm”. As a result, warm air is carried higher into the atmosphere.

Increase in Greenhouse Gas Emissions Another factor that can affect the Earths atmospheric condition is the increase in greenhouse gas emissions. The more greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere, the more quickly the clouds form. The warmer the clouds are, the more there is available moisture for clouds to fill. The clouds form ice clouds and ultimately freeze over the warmer surface areas of the Earths atmosphere. As a result, the Earths cryosphere shrinks by approximately 7 km in height per year.

Deeper Ice Losses While the Earths cryosphere is slowly losing mass, there are other contributing factors to the shrinking process. One of these factors is global warming. Global warming causes the surface of the planet to warm up. This causes the planet to lose mass in the form of water vapor and ice. Ice cubes continue to melt as the Earths surface heats up. This process of losing surface ice accompanies the other two aforementioned effects of global warming.

Another factor that is causing the Earths Cryosphere to shrink is associated with the release of heat from the Earths surface. As Earths temperature continues to rise, the rate of melting of the ice masses increases. It is this added melting that is causing the Earths cryosphere to contract. In fact, in recent studies it has been found that the slowing of Earths orbit is tied to the accelerating loss of ice masses at the poles.

As the Earths temperature continues to increase, it is expected that the shrinking will continue. It is also expected that the additional amounts of ice melting will continue as well. The slowdown in the Earths orbit caused by the effects of global warming is also causing an additional acceleration in the rate of atmospheric river and stream flooding. The combination of these two phenomena is causing a dramatic increase in the volume of the meltwater. Although the melting is taking place at a fast rate, it is not at a very high enough rate to offset the additional loss of ice at the poles. It is also not likely that the Earths cryosphere will regain its lost mass until after the Earths surface temperatures have increased by another ten degrees Celsius.

Provided by Antonio Westley

Disclaimer: This article is meant to be seen as an overview of this subject and not a reflection of viewpoints or opinions as nothing is definitive. So, make sure to do your research and feel free to use this information at your own discretion.

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