How do the melting of the Arctic ice and glaciers of the Antarctic differently affect the weather patterns and human activities on the Earth? Explain. UPSC GS Paper 1 2021, 10 Marks

Q15. आर्कटिक की बर्फ़ और अंटार्कटिक के ग्लेशियरों का पिघलना किस तरह अलग-अलग ढंग से पृथ्वी पर मौसम के स्वरूप और मनुष्य की गतिविधियों पर प्रभाव डालते हैं ? स्पष्ट कीजिए । (250 शब्दों में उत्तर दीजिए)

Q15. How do the melting of the Arctic ice and glaciers of the Antarctic differently affect the weather patterns and human activities on the Earth? Explain. (250 words) 15 Marks

Answer:

Introduction

Climate change has led to Global warming, which in turn affects the melting of the cryosphere, i.e. the global ice cover.

Melting of Arctic and Antarctica glaciers are posing serious threats to policy makers of Global North and South since it leads to rise in sea level. Apart from that, it affects the air circulation pattern and other weather patterns which can lead to extreme climate change events which affects millions of people.

How Melting of Antarctica and Arctic are affecting the weather patterns and human activities on the earth

  • Scientists are now paying special attention to warming in Antarctica, which contains 90 percent of the world’s ice. If it all melted, sea levels would rise by 190 feet. Since 1880, the oceans have risen more than 8 inches, and Antarctica lost 2.71 trillion metric tonnes of ice between 1992 and 2017. Half of these losses occurred in the last five years, indicating that the melting rate is accelerating.
  • Melting of Arctic will lead to condition of weak polar jet stream, which leads to extreme climatic events.

  • The chain of events that connects the melting Arctic to weather to the south starts with rising global temperatures, which cause more sea ice to melt. Unlike on the Antarctic continent, melting ice in Arctic region exposes the dark ocean beneath, which absorbs more sunlight than ice and thus warms even more. Because of this feedback loop, the Arctic is warming much faster than the rest of the planet.
  • This, in turn, reduces the temperature differential between the Arctic and lower latitudes, which is important since it is the temperature gradient between them that drives the jet stream wind, which streaks around the pole at up to 250mph and 8km above the surface.
  • Blockage patterns caused by slow-moving jet stream meanders have been strongly associated with some devastating events, including the 2010 summer flooding in Pakistan, which killed 2,000 people and affected 20 million, and a heat wave in Russia that same year. resulting in 50,000 deaths and $ 15 billion (£ 12 billion) worth of crops destroyed.
  • The jet stream separates the chilly north from the warmer south, but the reduced temperature difference means the winds are now weaker. This causes the jet stream to meander more, with large loops delivering warm air to the frigid north and cold air to the warmer south.
  • The other major influence on the jet stream is the tropics’ sea surface temperature, which waxes and wanes with El NiNo, while solar cycles and even volcanic eruptions have smaller affects.
  • So far, the strongest link between Arctic melting and weather has been for extreme winter conditions, such as the hard winters that affected areas of North America and northern Europe in 2009-10, 2010-11, and 2013-14, generating record snowfalls and billions of dollars in damage.
  • Also, in addition to displacement, sea level rise will increase nuisance flooding, saltwater intrusion, and higher storm surges during hurricanes. These kinds of disruptions are already occurring around the world, destroying homes and livelihoods and claiming thousands of lives. However, as the planet continues to warm, millions more people will face greater dangers.

Conclusion

The Arctic and Antarctic are the vital part of earth as an ecosystem. Nations around the world are upping their game in the fight against climate change. We, as individual human being should also take actions to make the positive changes to reduce the environmental impact of global warming. “Every drop in ocean counts.”

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