If last week we focused on the extreme south of the world, what we will talk about today is the extreme north of the world, the Arctic. The Arctic, unlike Antarctica, is not a true continent in its own right because it is made up of parts of several continents, that are, all those located north of the Arctic circle. My idea of talking to you about the Arctic already hovered in my mind, and then it was reinforced by the latest events, like the considerable fires that are occurring here. For this reason, I will not talk about the circulation of water masses in this area, but I will talk about the variability of the melting of ice.
This phenomenon is obviously related to the so-called greenhouse effect, that generates an increase in temperature, that inevitably acts on these areas more than in others. As we have already said, in fact, the more we get away from the equator, the more these changes are tangible for the intrinsic concept of global warming. Actually, while I was studying, I understood yet another thing, that not only climate change is more visible at the poles, but it is even more so at the north pole because of the greater anthropic pressure. In fact, if in the Antarctic the world population is present only in the form of a scientific community, in the Arctic the world population is certainly more consistent, and the environment proves to be more exploitable both on land and at sea.
Returning to the variability of the ice cover in Arctic we can say that in addition to temperature, this is also determined by winds, waves and currents. This is because the warming of the atmosphere generates a change in the atmospheric circulation that partly drives the waves and currents into the sea. Everything is connected and as more studies show us, when only one of the set limits is exceeded, the other limits are in constant danger.
Over the past 10 years, total ice loss from Arctic glaciers, ice caps and the Greenland ice sheet has produced an average of 447 gigatonnes of losses per year. It’s awesome! But what does the loss of ice in the Arctic involve?
- Firs of all there will be a decrease in the albedo (the fraction of light reflected from an object or a surface with respect to the one that affects it) and an increase in the free waters, that can have a significant effect on the energy balance of both atmospheric and oceanic circulation at high latitudes.
- The exposure of vast areas of the Arctic ocean with cold open waters that have an excellent capacity to absorb CO2, can be useful in the future as sink of CO2 (this is because the accumulation of CO2 is facilitated at low temperatures compared to the higher).
- Obviously the one that will undergo changes will certainly be the marine ecosystem, leading to a total distortion of biodiversity. This distortion can be given by the attainment of Arctic waters by the Atlantic fauna for example, or by the decrease in salinity. What will happen will be a continuous shift, within the marine community, that will allow the existence and survival of those species that will adapt faster.
- Last but not least, the stratification of the waters and with it the climate will certainly change.
I would add that human behavior in these regions will certainly also be modified. It means that freed from the ice, these regions, can be exploited for the extraction of hydrocarbons and precious metals. Not only will we lose one of the most fascinating environments and the existence of very particular organisms, but we will completely disfigure it, because this is our nature. Because this is our economy.
Today I don’t want to leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth, today I just want to tell you how beautiful this is for me and how I would like to visit this place before its complete loss. Only from the images I get lost, I close myself in the white and feel secure. When I think of the silence, of the deafening silence, I think to these lands. When I think of the immensity, when I think of life, when I think of love, I think of this place. When I think of happiness, I would like to lose myself in this nothing considered all the same, but for me so different, and never come back.