The North and South Poles are warming faster than elsewhere on Earth. (This is a fact, although even NASA isn’t quite sure exactly why.)
While the Earth has warmed about 1.44 degrees F (0,8°C) during the last 40 years, the Arctic has warmed by more than 3.5 degrees F (1.94°C). Net ice melt from Polar Ice Caps but also Greenland, West Antarctica and glaciers worldwide is one of the factors causing the seas to rise. (The other factor, of about equal importance, is thermal expansion – that is, warmer oceans take up more space.)
Since 1992, seas around the world have risen an average of nearly 3 inches (7.6 cm). The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says we can expect the oceans to rise between 11 and 38 inches (28 to 98 centimeters) by 2100. This may be a conservative estimate, because polar ice melt has become more rapid in recent years.
Ice sheets over Greenland and Antarctica are melting both from the warm air above and warm seawater flowing underneath.
In July 2017, a large portion of the Antarctic Ice Shelf known as Larsen C broke away and floated out to sea in the form of a huge trillion-ton iceberg. Ice which floats upon water has no direct affect on sea level when it melts; however, the departure of a chunk of ice shelf can release the land-based glaciers massed behind it. If all the ice behind the Larsen C shelf were to enter the sea, global waters could rise by 10 cm. But this will probably take several centuries.
This National Geographic story explains. Be sure to scroll down for some wonderful photos taken by researchers swimming beneath the Antarctic ice.
Some coastal villages in Alaska are already being inundated by the rising sea or sinking into the ground as the permafrost under them melts.
Polar photographer Paul Nicklen has produced some astounding photos of the Arctic as it is … for now. These pictures might make you feel cool for a moment if you’re suffering from the current heatwave.