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Q & A: melting ice caps

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
Will the melting of the polar ice caps raise the water level of the oceans so much that we will notice it or do you think that the ice displaces the water so much it will make no difference?
- philip (age 16)
A:
The antarctic ice cap is mostly on land. As it melts, the water will just add to the oceans, not displacing ice.

If global warming continues, the sea level rise will be more than noticeable. It will be a huge problem.

So far as all the careful scientific studies can tell, global warming will not only continue but get very serious unless we quickly reduce the level of greenhouse gases we dump into the air whenever we burn fossil fuels.

Mike W.

The other effect we mention elsewhere on this site is that as the oceans warm everywhere on earth, not just at the poles, the water in them expands. This is the main contribution to the expected rise in ocean levels, and it is a big deal for people who live near the coast (as a large fraction of the world's population does).

Everyone's affected by the warming trend, though -- climate change is expected to change temperature and rainfall patterns, upsetting delicately balanced ecosystems far from the ocean shores.

Tom

(published on 10/22/2007)

Follow-Up #1: dead polar bears

Q:
Would animals such as polar bears die due to polar caps melting
- Brendon (age 16)
Brisbane, Qld, Aus
A:
Yes, apparently thatís already happening.
Mike W.

(published on 10/22/2007)

Follow-up on this answer.