Essay on Catastrophic Events in Earth’s History
Number of words: 594
Rising sea level is the cumulative effect of polar caps melting, loss of ice from West Antarctica, and thermal expansion of seawater. The ocean can absorb as much as 80% of the heat—the heat absorption results in thermal expansion contributing to the sea level rise. The polar caps have been melting since 1970; in addition, ice loss from West Antarctica Ice Sheets (WAIS) and green land is now accelerated and contributing to a rise in sea level (Nuccitelli, 2018). There are two ice sheets in Antarctica known as the East and West Antarctica Ice Sheet. A mountain range separates these ice sheets. The focus of research is on the WAIS as the loss of ice is more than East Antarctica Ice Sheet, which is stable at this moment (Nuccitelli, 2018). The thickness of the WAIS on its outer edge is very thin, equal to buoyant thickness. Therefore, ice starts floating at the grounding line, whereas shelves of ice are formed at the edge, which eventually separates from the WAIS and floats over the sea surface, known as an iceberg (Pattyn, 2018).
The prediction reading of the sea level rise is not coherent amongst the scientists. The model, approach, and assumption used by the scientists are different; therefore, the readings are not coherent (Pattyn, 2018). The collapse of WAIS can cause the sea level to rise to 13 feet in the next few years, according to Goldenberg (2014), whereas NASA’s environmental model predicts that by the end of 2100, the sea level will rise by 5 feet. Another model presented in ‘Earth’s future is based on a semi-empirical approach that predicts that the sea level will rise by 3 feet with the tolerance of 1 ft. The phenomena of melting polar caps can continue for 1000 years, therefore despite uneven readings of the sea level rising, it has been accepted by the environmental community that the sea level rise is unavoidable, but the precautionary measure can mitigate catastrophic events in the future (Nuccitelli, 2018). Many ice sheet models use MISI (Marine Ice Sheet Instability) to analyze the collapse of WAIS and predict sea-level rise. However, the results obtained from these models could be unrealistic and cause conflict between the model results and the actual scenario. Furthermore, the MISI is suitable only for separated ice shelves from WAIS and not for the entire WAIS causing the conflict between the results (Pattyn, 2018).
Global warming is a result of rapid industrialization and allied activities to support the economic ambitions of many countries. The rise in sea level observed since 1880 was 1 inch per 16 years instead of 1 inch for every eight years. The rising sea level can cause approximately 216 million people to homeless if not, the regular flood will affect these people (Nuccitelli, 2018). Therefore, it is necessary to take precautionary measures to reduce pollution and minimize the emission of greenhouse gases by using fuel-efficient vehicles and industrial processes, using non-conventional energy sources, etc. In addition, sea barriers could be built across the shores to avoid flooding; also, caravans could be made near the seashores, so if the flood hits the area, people could live in caravan away from the shore than suffering in flood. Finally, it is necessary to take precautions to save the human race and other species from the catastrophe of rising sea levels.
Nuccitelli, D. (2018). How much and how fast will the global sea-level rise? Bulletin of The Atomic Scientists, 74(3), 139-141. doi: 10.1080/00963402.2018.1461894
Pattyn, F. (2018). The paradigm shift in Antarctic ice sheet modelling. Nature Communications, 9(1). doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-05003-z