Melting glaciers and ice caps raise concern for researchers

As a result of climate change, glaciers and ice caps in the Arctic, Glacier National Park, and Antarctica have been melting.  Those in Antartica are causing sea levels to rise, causing land destruction that could potentially put wildlife in danger.  Because of these rising concerns, many researchers and scientists are trying to stop the damage to polar ice caps and glaciers.

Sea levels continue to rise in Antartica. Courtesy of

A glacier is a slow moving and slow forming body of ice accumulated from snow off of mountains. An ice cap is the coverage of ice over a large area, especially in the polar regions.  Starting in 1910, the 27th President of the United States, Mr. William Howard Taft, created the Glacier National Park in Montana, which at the time was home to over 150 glaciers.  Since then the number of glaciers in Montana has decreased to under 30, according to  

In an interview with National Geographic, Dr. Daniel B. Fagre, a Research Ecologist and Director of the Climate Change in Mountain Ecosystems Project, spoke about the glaciers change.  Dr. Fagre has been measuring how the park’s glaciers are melting for over a decade.

“Things that normally happen in geologic time are happening during the span of a human lifetime,” Dr. Fagre said, according to “It’s like watching the Statue of Liberty melt.”

As temperatures in the atmosphere continue to rise, ice caps are melting rapidly.  The warm temperatures allow more water to flow into the oceans, increasing their depth, according to  In the past 40 years, the planet has increased in warmth by about 0.8° C.  However, the Arctic is warming double that of the rest of the planet due to the Gulf Stream’s warmer waters, according to  The sea levels over time are rising at an average rate of four to eight inches every year, according to

Senior Stephanie Beshoory, an AP Environmental Science student, elaborated on the possible consequences as a result of this problem, warning people about the wildlife that could be affected.

“This problem will continue to advance if we do not take it into our own hands to better the environment around us,” Stephanie said.  “If people are not informed of this problem, then certain species can go extinct and neighboring communities will be displaced due to the dangerous amount of water.”

The crack in the Nansen Ice Shelf is raising concerns for Antartica’s future. Courtesy of

Antarctica contains 90 percent of the world’s ice caps.  Increasing sea levels is capturing scientists’ attention as they do not know how quickly Antarctica is melting, according to  The Nansen Ice Shelf is a 30 mile long and ten-mile wide ice sheet attached to the coast of Antarctica.  This extensive ice shelf is important for holding back the flow of ice from the main bodies of water in Antarctica.  The crack in the Nansen Ice Shelf raises concerns for the future because the flow of land ice could double at an accelerating speed, according to

In an attempt to solve this problem, Ms. Christine Dow and Dr. Ryan T. Walker, scientists at The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Goddard Institute for Space Studies, visited the Nansen Ice Shelf in November and December of 2015.  Their goal was to install Global Positioning System (GPS) stations across the ice shelf allowing them to record subtle flexing of the ice, according to

Toward the end of December 2018, the polar ice caps along the Arctic sea were at their third-lowest level in the satellite record, according to  Sea ice coverage is one of the key components of the polar climate, and the decrease in the Arctic sea ice cover indicates that global warming could increase in the future, according to

A study led by Mr. Eric Rignot, Professor of Earth system science at the University of California, Irvine, collected data on the ice and snow patterns of Antartica since 1979.  Since 1979, Antartica’s ice sheet has been melting at a fast rate.  The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that the rate of the melting ice caps is accumulating faster by the decade, according to 

If the ice continues to melt, it will cause the average sea level to rise 188 feet.  The rate of melting ice keeps increasing over time, especially in warmer areas of the Arctic, according to  Scientists believe that if the ice caps continue to melt at this rate, all the ice along Antartica will be gone by 2030, according to
Stephanie emphasized how crucial it is for others to understand and take action to preserve the melting ice caps and glaciers.

“I think it is hard for people who do not live near areas where ice caps or glaciers seem relevant to their lives, like here in Greenwich, to fully understand how severe this problem is,” Stephanie said.  “It is both sad and surprising how much this issue has escalated due to the way we treat the world with our machinery and lifestyles.”

Featured Image by Sofia Pye ’21