How to stop Antarctica’s ice from melting

Under threat: About 70% of the world’s freshwater is held in ice caps and glaciers.

Could we create new glaciers to stop Antarctic ice from melting? The continent’s huge ice sheet has been slowly shrinking for the last 16 years. It could have terrible results for the world.

What’s happening

Scientists have found that snowfall in Antarctica has been increasing for the last 200 years. Sound like great news? It is not. It is a result of global warming, which creates wetter atmospheres, and therefore more precipitation. Antarctica’s ice sheet has been losing mass and melting since 2002.

Find out more

An expedition of scientists from all over the world are travelling to Antarctica to find out how much a large ice shelf known as “Larsen C” is shrinking. They will also attempt to find the lost ship of Ernest Shackleton.

Last July, Larsen C produced one of the largest icebergs ever recorded, leaving experts wondering whether the whole ice shelf is being set up for a collapse. The melting of Antarctic ice is a disaster for the world, as it is causing sea levels to rise. If it continues, whole cities and islands could end up underwater.

But some scientists believe creating new polar glaciers could be the answer. Glaciers are huge bodies of dense ice that move constantly, and very slowly. Could geoengineering our own glaciers really work?

Some say…

This is the best solution. It could delay much of Antarctica’s ice from reaching the sea for centuries, buying time to solve global warming. This is the front line of the battle against climate change: even one large glacier melting would be disastrous. Humans have already interfered harmfully with the environment. Now let’s make things better.

Others think…

Bad idea. Even on a small scale, geoengineering is expensive. When Hong Kong created an artificial island for its airport, it cost £14 billion. Imagine the cost of hundreds of miles of glaciers. Instead of this crazy scheme, we should focus on cutting emissions at home. And what if the science went wrong, and the climate was further harmed?

You Decide

  1. Should we create man-made glaciers in Antarctica?

Activities

  1. Draw a diagram of a glacier, showing how it is formed.

Some People Say...

“Small actions are always better than grand plans.”

What do you think?

Word Watch

Precipitation
Rain, snow, sleet or hail that falls to the ground.
Ice shelf
A long, floating sheet of ice which is attached to a coastline.
Ernest Shackleton
A British explorer who led three expeditions to the Antarctic. During one, his ship sunk, but he and his crew managed to escape.
Geoengineering
Deliberately changing the environment in a way that affects the Earth’s climate, to combat the effects of global warming.
Artificial
Man-made.
Emissions
Harmful greenhouse gases.

Subjects

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