The article voices concerns over the unprecedented rapid pace of Arctic cap melting. However, the melting process itself poses lesser danger to the Earth ecosystem as compared with the feedback mechanisms Arctic ice is involved in. These feedback mechanisms contribute to global warming in three distinct ways.
As ice melts, the territory of open ocean waters increases. Water has lower reflectivity, or albedo, as compared to ice. This fact entails that water absorbs 80 percent more solar radiation than sea ice does. Thus, the sun warms the ocean more quickly, and this process results in a vicious circle speeding up global warming.
The second way ice melting accelerates climate change is associated with the fact that oceans absorb about half the carbon dioxide that humans emit into the atmosphere. Yet their ability to absorb carbon dioxide is diminished by the increase in ocean’s temperature because the gas dissolves less readily in warmer water. Furthermore, warming of oceans implies less mixing between deep and surface waters – the process that provides nutrients to plankton that absorb carbon dioxide.
Finally, ice melting entails rotting of organic matter contained in the permafrost. This process involves the release of carbon dioxide and methane into the Earth atmosphere. Warming also affects wetlands and forests desiccating peat bogs and causing beetle infestation that kills pine forest.
More wildfires occur in dead or dying forests, and the process of combustion emits huge quantities of carbon into the atmosphere.
All these alarming signs call for a united and consistent action by all environmental activists and everyone keen on saving our planet.