The Consequences Of Melting Polar Ice Caps Environmental Sciences Essay

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

The polar ice caps that we see today have taken centuries to form and they ve been melting from time to time in order to form lakes and rivers that are essential not only for animal and plant life, but for humans as well all over the world. Furthermore, as precipitation takes its toll the ice caps that melt gets replaced by fresh snow that is later on over time converted to ice. Thus it is safe to say that the melting of the polar ice caps is a normal occurrence, however it becomes a problem when the ice caps melt at a fast rate and turning into water faster and in more quantity than the fresh snow replacing it.

This is the current situation of most of today s polar ice caps all over the world. As they reduce in size, stability, and strength they eventually break off and melt away thereby increasing sea levels among other things.

The major consequences of melting polar ice caps can be said in the following order below:

1. Global Warming.

We are currently experiencing warmer temperatures all over the world today as temperatures have gone high, and global warming is becoming more alarming day by day. This rise in temperature helps polar ice caps melt faster than it should be. Ice caps have even disappeared in certain parts of the world due to this. The melting of the polar ice caps increases global warming because ice glaciers deflects or bounces off about 80% heat from the sun and retain or absorb about 20% of it. However, when sunlight falls on earth, only 20% of the heat is deflected and 80% is absorbed. This in turn increases sea water temperatures, melting ice faster causing the earth to get warmer.

2. Shortage of Fresh Water.

Earth looks sort of enveloped and covered with water when seen from space which causes people to think that we are self-sufficient with water. However, this is just the opposite as most of the water that we can see from space in pictures is just salt water that is not good for human use and only 2% of it is considered as freshwater good enough for human use in which 70% of it comes from ice caps and glaciers. People in certain parts of the world depend on this fresh source of water for not only drinking but for agricultural purposes as well. There are certain areas around the Himalayas that are currently in crisis due to this especially in dry months as populations rise.

3. Reduced Agricultural Output.

To begin with, for the areas where agriculture mainly depends on rain, they won t be effected by melting of the ice caps. However these areas are few around the world. Areas that are affected are those that depend on fresh water coming from ice caps and glaciers. When ice caps keep on melting there will be lesser fresh water for agriculture which will make the lands dry and not suitable for agriculture thus reduce the total output leading to a shortage in harvest.

4. Excessive Flooding.

There are ice caps all over the world and it should be understood that the difference between polar ice caps and ice caps is that the later are present also on lands. Melting of these ice caps causes excessive flooding which is very dangerous for the people and animals that are living in those areas as it would destroy homes, habitats, and lives. Furthermore, polar ice caps and ice glaciers on higher altitudes melt faster which form new lakes and raise river water levels as well causing floods. This is also a cause of concern as when these river water levels rise and lakes burst, they lead to major disasters destroying everything crossing its path.

5. Rise In Sea Level.

As the polar ice caps melt at a faster rate, the more the sea levels rise. The consequences of this will be of dire magnitude and people living in coastal regions all over the world will have to relocate and live somewhere else, thereby decreasing amount of living space, due to soil erosion, flooding, and their fresh water being contaminated with salt water of the sea.

It has been estimated that the sea level rising 1mm to 2mm per year. It has also been estimated that in the U.S there will be a 3-foot rise in sea level in the Gulf coast which will lead to the deluge of more tha 22,000 square miles of land.

6. Habitat Loss.

There are plenty of animals, birds, and even fishes that depend on the polar ice caps and its temperatures for their survival. There are fishes depend on food such as phytoplankton and sea-plants that are underwater near the ice caps and there are birds such as snow owls that depend on these fishes near the ice caps and animals and humans who depend on certain birds for food. They are all connected. As sea water temperatures get warmer and sea levels rise, the sea plants in which these fishes feed off n live on will eventually die out n disappear and this in turn will lead to the increase in the death toll of fishes and birds will reduce due to lack of fishes to feed on, making survival for birds very difficult. Thus disturbing the whole ecosystem. Furhtermore the reduction of fishes has an impact on the polar bear as they have much less to feed on forcing them to take long journeys away from their habitat which also forces to eat what they don t normally eat. This journey is a risky one as some of the polar bear don t make it alive an die on the way as there are many threats as starvation and threats underwater such as killer whales and sharks. Seals, whales, and walruses are also adapting to this change to migrating patters which makes hunting for them by natives very difficult thus leaving the natives without food as well. In addition to the melting of the ice caps, blocks of ice are breaking off forcing seals to give bith underwater which causes many of the pups to die by drowning. Also separation occurs due to breaking of the ice at young ages leading to higher mortality rates.

7. Coral Reefs Will Vanish.

Coral reefs need sunlight for photosynthesis not only for their own survival but also for the survival of the various types of fishes that depend on it. As sea levels rise higher making waters deeper, the presence of sunlight under water becomes lesser as the sunlight becomes harder to reach the coral reefs. This in turn corrupts the quality of corals and may even kill them. Certain fishes won t survive as they depend on the reefs for food and this will later have an impact on people who depend on fish for survival.

8. Recontamination Of Earth.

Most people today have never even heard DDT and such pesticides as they were banned all over the world years ago. These substances were airborne and eventually wounded up in cooler areas near the ice caps and polar ice caps. Unfortunately the story doesn t end there as most of these harmful airborne chemicals got trapped inside the polar ice caps and glaciers, which later chunks of ice melt and break off, the chemicals, are then released back into the environment in seas, rivers, and lakes containing glaciers.

9. Melting Of The Polar Ice Caps Affects The Whole World.

The melting of the polar ice caps is not only limited to specific parts of the world. The rapid melting of the ice is a global concern and its consequences affect the whole world in every continent, especially when it comes to global warming.


In conclusion, the consequences of the melting polar ice caps are not only limited to specific areas of the world but rather are a global consequence and one that has many concerns and should be dealt with immediately because the polar ice caps are still melting and sea levels are rising, effecting us all over the world as mentioned above. Unfortunately nothing can be done about the rapid melting of the polar ice caps at the moment but global warming is a major factor in the rapid decrease of the ice caps and everyone should contribute to reduce global warming as a first step.