Ice

Articles on the impact of rising temperatures and ocean warming on the polar ice-sheets, sea ice & glaciers, in Greenland, the Arctic & Antarctica. Plus, the effects of climate change on permafrost and wildfires in the Arctic Circle.

Thwaites Ice Shelf edge

Antarctica: A Continent of Ice

All you need to know about the climate, geography, topography, ice sheets, glaciers, and sea ice of this incredible continent of Antarctica – half the size of Africa – as well as its rich marine biodiversity.

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Greenland Meltwater Stream

Greenland Ice Sheet: The Facts

We explain all you need to know about Greenland’s ice sheet, its polar and tundra ecosystems, its geography, topography and bedrock, and the rapid melting of its glaciers, like Kangerlussuaq Glacier, whose ice is disappearing on average seven times faster today than it was in 1991.

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Kangerdlugssup Glacier Greenland

Glaciers: Slow Moving Ice Giants

What are glaciers? How do they form? How many are there? How big are they? Are they growing or shrinking? What are the most common types? How are they affected by global warming? We answer all these questions, and lots more.

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Arctic Sea Ice Extent

Arctic Sea Ice: How Fast Is It Melting?

We examine the minimum and maximum extent and area of Arctic sea ice, the main causes of melting and its effects on climate and the polar ecosystem. We look at future projections and ask how soon will the Arctic ocean be ice-free in summer?

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Thawing permafrost

Why Is Permafrost A Climate Danger?

All you need to know about permafrost. What is it? How does it form? Where is it found? What happens if large areas of permafrost start thawing? Does it emit nitrous oxide as well as methane? Will this cause more global warming? We give you the answers to these and other questions.

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Cryosphere Ice Berg

What Is The Cryosphere?

The cryosphere is Earth’s frozen water. It includes snow cover, sea ice, glaciers, ice caps, ice sheets and permafrost. We examine the stability of these ice stores and explain how the cryosphere influences Earth’s climate.

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Guide To Arctic Fires

Why Are Arctic Fires So Dangerous?

The Arctic is warming faster than anywhere on Earth, causing tinder-dry forests and vast wildfires. We show how this emits huge amounts of CO2, leading to more warming. This feedback loop is doubled when Arctic fires thaw permafrost, releasing CO2 and methane.

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Information & Facts about Ice

• An ice sheet describes a mass of ice that covers a large area of land, usually over 50,000 square km (19,300 sq. miles) or more. An ice cap is a miniature ice sheet and is found in the polar regions.

• The vast Antarctic ice sheet is on average 2 kilometers thick, with a maximum thickness of 4.7 kms (almost 3 miles).

• Greenland’s ice sheet is the second largest body of ice on the planet, after the Antarctic ice sheet. Climate models predict average temperatures in Greenland will rise 3-9°C (5-16°F) this century, triggering melting of the ice sheet and sea level rise. If all Greenland’s ice did melt, it would raise sea levels by around 7 meters (24 ft). 

• The Antarctic ice sheet, which is one and a half times the size of the United States, contains enough frozen water to raise global sea levels by 60 metres (200 feet). If even 2 percent of it melted, it would raise sea levels by 1.2 meters (4 feet).  

• The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the global average. Temperatures in the region are higher now than they have been for 44,000 years, perhaps even for 120,000 years.

• The biggest-ever iceberg - known simply as Iceberg B-15A - broke off the Ross ice shelf in West Antarctica in March 2000. It measured about 11,000 square kilometers (4,247 sq miles).