Article 1 Melting Away

Melting Away
Walters, Jennifer Marino
Scholastic News (Ed. 4)
Summer sea ice is quickly disappearing in the frigid Arctic
The frigid Arctic region has been heating up in recent years. Scientists point to global warming - a
gradual increase in Earth's average temperature. The Arctic is virtually covered in ice year-round, but
Arctic sea ice is beginning to disappear during the summer months (see map). This melting is
endangering animals that rely on sea ice, such as the Pacific walrus.
Disappearing ice results in walruses gathering in large numbers on land. This puts the walruses at
greater risk of attack by predators. Walruses cannot escape them very easily on land. Walruses also
cannot hunt with ease for the seafood they eat.
Gathering in large numbers on land also puts calves, or young walruses, in danger. For example, U.S.
Geological Survey researchers recently reported that a herd of 3,500 walruses was onshore on the
northern coast of Alaska. More than 130 calves were killed when the herd became frightened and
stampeded into the water.
"The deaths of these walruses is another wake-up call that we will lose the Arctic if we continue on our
current course," says Shaye Wolf, a biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity.
Warming Up
Scientists say fighting global wanning is key. They say the biggest cause of global warming is the
burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and natural gas. People bum these fuels to power cars,
homes, and factories. The burning causes gases like carbon dioxide to be released into the air. The
gases trap the warmth of the sun in the atmosphere.
The increase in temperature is a few degrees on average. It is not only melting the summer Arctic
sea ice, but scientists say it is also causing glaciers around the world to thaw, putting many people
and animals at risk.
A study by scientists in India finds that glaciers in India's Kashmir mountains are melting too quickly.
This threatens the water supply of millions of people in the Himalayan region. For example, the largest
of Kashmir's glaciers, the Kolahoi, has shrunk by more than half a square mile in the past 40 years.
That's about the size of 243 football fields. The Kolahoi feeds Kashmir's Jhelum River, which is needed
for farming.
Glaciers also are melting in the Swiss Alps. Scientists there say 12 percent of Alps glacier ice melted
between 1999 and 2008. They have found that as the glaciers melt, pollutants trapped in them are
being released into nearby Alpine lakes. Scientists say this could endanger people who use the lakes
to fish and to water crops.
Looking Ahead
Scientists and world leaders are trying to come up with ways to stop global warming.
If nothing changes, the Arctic will be almost free of summer ice within 10 years, say scientists with
the Catlin Arctic Survey. It may be completely free of summer ice within 20 to 30 years.
For now, officials are deciding whether to classify the Pacific walrus as an endangered species. This
would require the U.S. to officially protect the walrus. The polar bear, an Arctic neighbor of the walrus,
was put under similar protection last year.
"The rapid change under way in the Arctic shows that time is running . . . short," says Wolf. "[But] we
can still [avoidl some of the most serious global-warming impacts."
Citation for your reference:
Walters, Jennifer Marino. "Melting Away." Scholastic News (Ed. 4). 07 Dec. 2009: 4. eLibrary. Web. 25
Jan. 2011.
Walters, Jennifer Marino. "Melting Away." Scholastic News (Ed. 4). 07 Dec. 2009: 4.