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A long-term solution for projected flood prone areas and costal living
Part IV
Yale Climate Connections

Why floating homes Why floating homes Why floating homes

These images using satellite-derived sea ice concentration data show average minimum and maximum sea ice during March and September for the Arctic and Antarctic from 1979 to 2000. Seasons are opposite between the Southern and Northern Hemispheres; the South reaches its summer minimum in February, while the North reaches its summer minimum in September. (March is shown for both hemispheres for consistency.) The black circles in the center of the Northern Hemisphere images are areas lacking data due to limitations in satellite coverage at the North Pole. —Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado.

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There are two warnings about melting ice and rising oceans:
1. one is by land,
2. the other, by sea. But it’s ice sheets on land, not icebergs in the ocean, that are the biggest contributors to sea level rise. Land ice includes mountain glaciers and ice sheets, covering Greenland and Antarctica. These giant blocks of ice are melting and the water is flowing rapidly into the oceans. Think of it like adding water to an already full glass – it soon overflows. But melting sea ice behaves differently. Axel Schweiger is a researcher at the University of Washington.
Schweiger said: "Melting sea ice has no impact on sea level rise because it’s already floating in the ocean."

  • Like a glass of ice water. As it warms, the ice in the glass melts, but the total volume of water does not change. However, melting sea ice does contribute to climate change. That’s because white sea ice reflects the sun. So when it melts, the dark open ocean now absorbs sunlight and heats up, raising global temperatures, which in turn cause glaciers and ice sheets on land to melt further.
  • Globally, sea levels have risen four to eight inches since the last century and will continue to rise as the ice melts, putting coastal communities worldwide at risk.

Sea Ice

  • Sea ice is found in remote polar oceans. On average, sea ice covers about 25 million square kilometers (9,652,553 square miles) of the earth, or about two-and-a-half times the area of Canada. Because most of us do not live in the polar regions, we may live for several decades and never see sea ice. Although it may not directly affect us, it is a critical component of our planet because it influences climate, wildlife, and people who live in the Arctic.
  • Sea ice is simply frozen ocean water. It forms, grows, and melts in the ocean. In contrast, icebergs, glaciers, ice sheets, and ice shelves all originate on land. Sea ice occurs in both the Arctic and Antarctic. In the Northern Hemisphere, it can currently exist as far south as Bohai Bay, China (approximately 38 degrees north latitude), which is actually about 700 kilometers (435 miles) closer to the Equator than it is to the North Pole. In the Southern Hemisphere, sea ice only develops around Antarctica, occurring as far north as 55 degrees south latitude.
  • Sea ice grows during the winter months and melts during the summer months, but some sea ice remains all year in certain regions. About 15 percent of the world's oceans are covered by sea ice during part of the year.

What is the difference between sea ice and icebergs, glaciers, and lake ice?

The most basic difference is that sea ice forms from salty ocean water, whereas icebergs, glaciers, and lake ice form from fresh water or snow. Sea ice grows, forms, and melts strictly in the ocean. Glaciers are considered land ice, and icebergs are chunks of ice that break off of glaciers and fall into the ocean. Lake ice is made from fresh water and freezes as a smooth layer, unlike sea ice, which develops into various forms and shapes because of the constant turbulence of ocean water. The process by which sea ice forms is also different from that of lake or river ice. Fresh water is unlike most substances because it becomes less dense as it nears the freezing point. This difference in density explains why ice cubes float in a glass of water. Very cold, low-density fresh water stays at the surface of lakes and rivers, forming an ice layer on the top.

Reporting credit: Chavo Bart Digital Media. Photo: The Antarctic Ice Sheet covers an area larger than the U.S. and Mexico combined. This photo shows Mt. Erebus rising above the ice-covered continent. (Ted Scambos & Rob Bauer) Courtesy of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of Colorado, Boulder. More Resources All About Sea Ice A Tour of the Cryosphere (includes an audio version) Arctic vs. Antarctic Melt of Key Antarctic Glaciers ‘Unstoppable’ Stronger Winds Explain Puzzling Growth of Sea Ice in Antarctica Acceleration of the contribution of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to sea level rise NASA Mission Takes Stock of Earth’s Melting Land Ice FILED UNDER: David Appell, land ice, sea ice, sea level rise. https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2014/11/loss-of-land-ice-not-sea-ice-more-sea-level-rise/

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