Icebergs, travelling and global warming

Glaciers and Icebergs at Cape York, Greenland

What do ‘growlers’ and ‘bergy bits’ have to do with travel? Both curiously named things are small chunks of ice the that are chipped off large glaciers or ice shelves. They’re small icebergs. And there are more of them because we travel.

Icebergs cave (break off) from ice shelves and ice shelves extend from continental ice sheets and glaciers. An ice shelf gains ice through the flow of ice from glaciers, by snowfall and by seawater freezing to its under-surface. An ice shelf loses ice by iceberg calving, by evaporation and melting of ice. It is estimated that 40,000 to 50,000 substantial icebergs are annually calved off Greenland while a smaller number of gigantic icebergs break off the ice shelves around Antarctica. While the advance and retreat of ice in the Polar Regions is part of a natural cycle, it some experts fear that it may have lost its balance.

By Imo
I think the melting icebergs
In the arctic
Is demonic
How will the penguins
Now get ice
For their gin and tonic?

Riding airplanes and Global Warming

West Antarctica

Airplanes emit a lot of carbon dioxide, the most significant greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. Aircraft emissions accounts for about 3 per cent of CO2 emissions. Experts predict that by 2050, aircraft emissions will account for over 5 per cent of total warming.

In Antarctica the effect of warming has intensified hydrological cycles to produce more snow and ice and actually reduce sea levels by one millimetre. At the same time, small ice shelves have suffered catastrophic collapses as a result of a regional warming of 2.5C in the past 50 years and the continent’s peripheral ice continues to decline. Although calving of icebergs is part of a natural cycle and the loss of floating ice does not affect global sea levels, it seems that the adjacent continental ice sheet may become unstable if it loses its ‘buffer zone’ provided by an ice shelf. Scientists measured glaciers flowing between two and eight times as fast after the collapse of the Larsen B Ice Shelf (Antarctica) in 2002. If the regional warming continues and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapses as a result, global sea levels could rise more than 5 metres, threatening densely populated coastlines worldwide.

In the North Pole, 95 per cent of Arctic glaciers have been found to be receding, particularly in the summer months. While ice melt in the Arctic won’t affect sea levels, it will see the eradication of entire eco systems.  Scientists project there to be a complete loss of summer ice in the next 50 to 100 years.

Does it matter?

Yes, of course it does!!! There’s the obvious rise of sea levels but what’s more, ice is alive! Did you know that icebergs harbour entire ecosystems? Aside from the lovable, big-pawed, button-nosed polar bear, or the mystical narwhals with their unicorn-like tusk, humpback whales who feed in these cold waters, there are hundreds of micro organisms that sustain the environment. Icebergs are like upside down gardens where phytoplankton grows on the underside of the ice. Zooplankton then feeds on the phytoplankton, and in turn it supports teems of marine life, which again are deeply connected to our own, the human, food chain.
All right stop, collaborate and listen!

Antarctic sea ice, Amundsen Sea

The good news is that our individual actions can help keep alive the Polar wilderness, with it’s whimsical penguins and cheeky seals. We must remember that what we do does matter, so let’s do it right!

Here’s a list of easy things you can do to take the heat off global warming (and keep coins in your pocket).

-Land travel where you can…and car pool! A great way to save cash and the planet! Do a web-search for a car pool service in the area you’re in. Or get on board a local bus, train or bike – it’s heaps more fun and a great way to get to know the locals.

-Take the roof racks off your car when you’re not using them. It’ll save you up to 10 per cent in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions due to wind resistance and extra weight.

-Plant trees! One sunny day you’ll be able to hang a hammock between a couple of them and watch your edible garden grow, what a lovely feeling.

-Be creative with your household energy savings. Turn the energy switches off on unused appliances; fill up your fridge and freezer – this will make cooling more efficient; take tandem showers – way more fun, they’ll warm you up and not the environment.

-Get informed and take action with groups such as 350.org, earthlab.com, and iucn.org.

-Get a Happy Days 2012 diary where you will find this story and more to inform yourself about your role in managing our global environment

Happy Days 2012 Diary

IMO’s big global warming poem

The question isn’t HOW or WHY or IF it’s true or not
We need to own up stand up man up now to find a way to make it stop
Or is it just our destinies fuelled by human greed
To plunder use up and destroy our basic source of need?
ACT LOCALLY: yes! We need to take it to the streets
Too long have governments been feasting on capitalist treats
THINK GLOBALLY: while mother nature starts to itch
Stripped bare and raped and torn to fill the pockets of the rich
If we keep on head strong like we are,
we are doing ourselves in
Rise up like the waters to see if you will sink
Or you will swim.

 

 


About Keri Algar

Keri has an insatiable appetite for travel, discovery and surf. You may find her among the happy isles, smiles and empty barrels of Melanesia, or swinging her hips at a Spanish fiesta, underwater in Mexico, on top of the Argentine alps, or at home in New Zealand with her nose in a book. She is delighted by difference - both people and places, and is inspired by those who follow their own path through life with passion and courage.

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