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The Arctic:


by the day



Environmental effects on the climate have been going on for centuries, but never has the world been in as much danger as we are now. If we are not careful and don’t take the right precautions the Arctic could thin away before our eyes. In this slide show you will learn about global warming, and climate change and how they are affecting the Arctic. You will learn about what you can do to help preserve the Arctic from thinning away. Finally this slide show will end with a quiz testing you on all the knowledge you have retained from this slide show. Enjoy!


Global warming is the result of rising surface temperature of our planet which in turn warms the climate of the Earth. Green house gases are emitted into the air from various sources causing a further rise in temperatures. The green house effect is the process in which short wave solar radiation coming into earth heats the surface, and then is re-emitted as infrared radiation. This heat becomes trapped in the atmosphere due to certain “greenhouse gases” that can absorb infrared radiation: water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and other gases known as fluorocarbons. These gases, upon contact with the outgoing rays absorb the heat energy, heat up, and re-radiate the heat back down to earth rather than getting radiated back into space, which would allow the planet to release heat or “cool off.” Over the past century humans have been producing so many greenhouse gases at a rate so fast that there is too much carbon dioxide in the air. As more and more carbon dioxide is emitted, heat trapping gases build up in the atmosphere and more and more heat gets trapped and the result is rising temperatures on the surface of earth. The Arctic ice is melting even faster because of the amount of land near the North pole since land heats up much more quickly than water (the oceans). Soon to be there no more ice if we are not careful.

Backround Information:

What is Global Warming?


Background Information

2: What is Climate


Climate change has been occurring ever since the beginning of the planet, about 4.5 billion years ago. It is the long-term affect of the make up of the Earth’s atmosphere, which determines the average temperatures of the planet’s surface. A slight increase or and decrease in the planet’s surface temperature (not weather) makes the difference between an ice age of a hot house Earth. It is up to humans now to control this long term climate change affect. By doing things such as burning fossil fuels (such as coal) and deforestation (the cutting down of trees and forests) we are putting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This carbon dioxide absorbs heat, further increasing the planet’s temperature. The more this continues the higher the surface temperature is going to rise, with more dramatic extremes seen in the Arctic. Studies have shown that humans do not live well on hot climates; high heat works for the times of the dinosaurs. If we are not careful we could wipe the entire human race. Of course the temperature is always going to be rising and there is going to be carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, but humans have the power to speed up or slow down the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It is predicted that in the next 50-100 years the earth’s average surface temperature may rise as high as 10 degrees Farenheit due to the rate at which excess amount of greenhouse gases are building up. The predicted rise in temperature will be even greater in the Arctic which would cause the Arctic to melt even faster then it normally would. It could lead to the extinction of animals that thrive and depend on the Arctic ice to survive.


What is happening to the Arctic?

Our Arctic Circle is becoming less by the day. The Arctic is one of the most sensitive places to climate change in the world. As the temperatures in the world continue to rise the effect on the Arctic could wreck its ecosystem and in turn shrink the amount of ice as well as permafrost in this area. By the end of the century there is going to be a 25 degrees farenheight increase in temperature.

In the fall and winters in Arctic Circle there is supposed to be 3 thick layers of ice covering the surface for algae (food) to grow on. This algae is needed so that the food chain ensures survival all the way to the top – so animals (polar bears, seals walrus, arctic foxes etc.) can survive and live. Also those thick layers allow for transportation, shelters, and hunting grounds for these animals. The layer underneath the ice is needed so that fish and underwater mammals can thrive and eat. Since the 1950s the thickness of the ice as well as the amount of water itself has decreased by 3-5 % due to global warming. It is predicted by 2050 the Arctic summers will be so warm that no ice will be present at all. In addition , the arctic stays cold because of the white color of ice, which causes the sun’s rays to get reflected, and makes it hard to the surface to “warm up”. The surface simply can’t absorb heat because it’s too white. The less sea ice we have the more heat is going to be absorbed by the dark colored water, the warmer it will get (feedback from the earth’s albedo). This heat will prevent the Arctic ice from forming since it isn’t cold enough for ice to form. The change in color of the surface from the white of ice, to the dark color of open water amplifies temperature rising, and pushes climate to change even more drastically. This amplifying process is known as feedback and it all comes down to how white is the color of the planet’s surface.

How is global warming

and climate change affecting it?


What will happen to the Arctic by

2050 if the thinning

continues like it is now


What is evidence that

global warming is

affecting the climate

and the Arctic?

There is evidence today all over Earth of a rapidly warming climate. Scientists use melting glaciers as evidence for a warming climate. Before the last 50 years scientists paid little, if any attention to ice and glaciers, especially ones in the Artic. In the Artic the thickness has been going down 29% since the 1950s. In addition to all this animals in the Artic are slowly becoming extinct as well. Since the climate is constantly warming the winters in the Artic are slowing disappearing. The ice is not becoming as thick underneath, creating less area for polar bears to roam, and less food for fish to feed off of during the winter (algae growing on the edges of ice – “refrigerated greens” all winter long when there is no sun or photosynthesis. ) If we are not careful the Arctic circle will vanish before our eyes. By looking at the melting rate of ice it is evident that global warming is affecting the climate.


Yet another factor that humans have to look out for is the melting of the permafrost. As the Arctic continues to heat up there is an decrease in permafrost, or permanently frozen ground. When the Arctic melts the ice crystals lying within the soil disappear. Without these crystals the icy ground “thaws” and also becomes unstable and collapses. The thawing causes gases frozen in the soil (methane for example) to become “unlocked” and released into the atmosphere. Scientists hadn’t even taken into account the potential impact of stored methane in permafrost as a potential “new” source of greenhouse gases. Further, as the ground collapses more slumps and landslides are created. As more land slowly collapses the effect leads to the collapse of many buildings. In the Arctic there are many coal mines and other valuable mines that will collapse in time if the landslides continue to be created and slip. Also, stations are created beneath the Arctic ice to help prevent permafrost. These stations are made to be dependent on the stable permafrost that lies beneath the Arctic ice. As the Arctic continues shrinking and the permafrost continues to melt there will be an increase in greenhouse gases, and more warming of the earth.

What is


How is it

affecting the


picture of permafrost


Graph: Rate at which

the Artic ice is shrinking

from 1978-2005


*Educate people about this issue

The more people that are aware about the Arctic’s situation the more people may be willing to help.

*lower the amount of fossil fuels burned by driving less, driving more efficient vehicles, and using energy efficiently in homes, buildings, and businesses. For example turn off electric appliances when not in use, turn down the thermostat at night, and buy energy efficient appliances.

By conserving energy you can reduce the amount of fossil fuels being used, slowing down the greenhouse effect. This can help slow the rate at which the Arctic melts.

*Reduce the use of man-made chemicals like CFCs (which also destroy the ozone layer) and their substitutes , and cut smog since these contribute greenhouse gases to the atmosphere

Action small and large scale are needed. Individuals need to do their part, communities, cities, businesses, government, and the international community needs to their part. We can only slow climate change down by world-wide action.

How can you help

perserve and

protect the



Graph: Arctic Sea Ice

Volumes Over Time


Arctic Circle From Earth

Graph of Ice Concentration


Arctic ecosystem - animals and they prey

many animals will go extinct

From the thick layers of the ice

Without the bacteria


If we don’t take care of our Arctic these animals could become extinct

pictures of the Arctic ecosystem



The Arctic thawing is now becoming more serious of an issue. People need to become more conscious of the situation and how they can help. Scientists are looking at the evidence for climate change now and the growing concentration of greenhouse gases and they are making predictions about what the Arctic will be like in 2050 if our pattern of use of fossil fuels continues. Now, more than ever, for the sake of ourselves and the animals in the Arctic environment we need to save the Arctic ice from melting!



  • 2) What is Climate Change?
  • The annual temperature range of a specific region
  • Long-term changes in the Earth’s system which affect the temperature of the Earth’s surface
  • The average temperatures in a specific place every year
  • What is Global Warming?
  • a) Global warming refers to the rise in the Earth’s surface temperature due to human activities.
  • b) Global warming is what happens when the temperature of Earth’s climate decreases.
  • c) Global warming results from the hole in the ozone layer.

4) By 2050 if the Arctic were to continue to thaw at the same rate as it is now what percent of it will be left? What percent of the Arctic has already shrunk since the 1950s?

  • 54%, 29%
  • 29%, 54%
  • 54%, 38%
  • 38%, 29%
  • 5) What will be emitted into the atmosphere if the arctic permafrost thaws?
  • Primarily ozone destroying gases
  • Green house gases
  • algae

3) Why is the Arctic Circle different from other regions on Earth?

a) It’s surrounded by polar waters that are then ringed by large land masses

b) It’s made up mostly of large landmasses that are then surrounded by polar water




Quiz: Still Continued

  • 6) What is one way
  • that you can help
  • slow down the rate
  • of melting of the Arctic Circle
  • Burn more fossil fuels
  • Lower the amount of fossil fuels
  • used to generate electricity
  • c) Drive bigger cars that are not fuel
  • efficient
  • 7) How many degrees
  • (Farenheit) is the climate
  • expected to rise if we take no action
  • over the next 100 years?
  • 3-4
  • 3-9
  • 5-15
  • 0-1

A (answer in slide 3)

  • B (answer in slide 4)
  • A (answer in slide 5)
  • A (answer in slides 6 + 7)
  • B (answers in slides 8)
  • B (answers in slide 10)
  • B (answer in slide 5)



The End

and remember: act fast

before we watch the

Arctic thin away before

our eyes



Name sight:

Source: Intergovernment Pannel on Clmate Change

Title: Polar Regions, Arctic and Antarctic

Author: Unknown

Date last update: 2001

Date Visited: 6/7/06

Name sight:

Source: The Green Lane TM, Environment Canada\'s World

Title: Climate Change Overview: Science of Climate Change

Author: Unknown

Date last update: 1/6/06

Date Visited: 6/7/06

Name sight:

Source: Intergovernment Pannel on Clmate Change

Title:Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability

Author: Unknown

Date last update: 2001

Date Visited: 6/7/06

Name sight:

Source: Impact

Title: Climate Change

Author: Unknown

Date last update: February 16th, 2005

Date Visited: 6/7/06



Name sight:

Source: David Suzuki Foundation

Title: Arctic Thaw

Author: David Suzuki

Date last update: 2004

Date Visited: 6/7/06

Name sight:

Source: The Arctic ICCE project

Title: The Future is Now

Author: Malin Jennings

Date last update: November 6th, 2005

Date Visited: 6/7/06

Name sight:

Source: Geographical Fluid dynamics laboratory

Title: arctic sea ice changes in gfdl r30 greenhouse scenario experiments

Author: K. Dixon & H. Vahlenkamp

Date last update: 2004

Date Visited: 6/7/06




Name sight:

Source: Periodical

Title: Shifting sands

Author: Sid Perkins

Date last update: October 19th, 2002

Date Visited: 6/7/06

Name sight:

Source: Periodical

Title: Big Thaw Coming

Author: Sid Perkins

Date last update: May 29, 2004

Date Visited: 6/7/06

Name sight:

Source: Periodical

Title: Warm Spell

Author: Sid Perkins

Date last update: March 5th 2005

Date Visited: 6/7/06


still continued


Last part of


Name sight:

Source: Periodical

Title: Runaway Heat

Author: Sid Perkins

Date last update: November 12, 2005

Date Visited: 6/7/06

Name Sight:

Source: BBC News

Title: Arctic Ice ‘disappearing quickly’

Author: Richard Black

Date Last Update: September 28, 2005

Date Visited: 6/7/06