In the wake of the recent announcement that the Arctic could be ice free in summer months in just four years time, Wildopeneye explores the implications of this prediction through a new short documentary film called Three Degrees which looks at the implications of a rise in global average temperatures of three degrees Centigrade. The film explains that drastic measures may be necessary to ameliorate climate change if we have to compensate for the loss of reflective protection currently offered by sea and glacial ice.
Solar radiation is reflected back into space from ice and snow, so losing the ice cover is expected to increase the absorbtion of solar radiation at ground and sea level and reduce the amount of heat that is bounced back.
The melt isn’t confined to the polar regions, Himalayan glacier melt is thought to have been exacerbated (made worse) by high altitude aerosol particles from forest burning in Malaysia and Indonesia (Asia’s Brown Cloud BBC News, 1 August 2007).
One of the alarming aspects of Global warming is that it is a positive feedback cycle, the loss of ice is expected to increase the pace of warming, which in turn melts more ice, and so on.
The anticipated warming could be exacerbated faster when methane (CH4) from decayed organic matter trapped in permafrost on the continental shelves is released to the atmosphere, as it is a more potent greenhouse gas than Carbon dioxide.
There is likely to be some threshold point beyond which climate change may become irreversible, a “run-away greenhouse effect”, but humans are a very inventive and resourceful species, we may yet react in time.
Andy Luck produced the Three Degrees short film in the Wild Wonder Series.
Click here to view other high quality environmental education films. These films are ideal supplementary class materials for teachers’ use in classroom or as part of homework research assignments.