Airdate: Feb 25, 2005
Scientist: Michael Oppenheimer
Melting Polar Ice Cap: Intro
The Arctic icecap appears to be melting, and some scientists say that within a century, the North Pole will be an open sea during the summer months.
Melting Polar Icecap - Intro
Music; Ambience: Arctic footsteps fx
We're listening to the sounds of footsteps recorded on the polar icecap. In 1909, Robert Peary became the first explorer to reach the North Pole, after traveling for weeks over solid ice. Today, the Arctic icecap appears to be melting, and scientists warn that within a century, the North Pole will be an open sea. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont. Earlier this year, scientists traveling on a cruise ship from Norway arrived near the North Pole and found, to their astonishment, a large ice-free patch of ocean a mile wide, right at the top of world.
"Open water at the North Pole has occurred previously, but the relative lack of sea ice during the whole journey was quite unusual."
Michael Oppenheimer is an atmospheric scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund.
"And a picture is beginning to emerge of a polar icecap that's both thinning and shrinking. What's particularly troubling about these observations is that the rate of thinning and shrinking, if it turns out to be sustained and to be typical, would lead to complete disappearance of polar ice during summer in the next 50 to 100 years. That would not only have significant reverberations for the Earth's climate, for the circulation in the oceans, but also for the species that live in North Polar regions, like the polar bears."
The North Polar icecap is melting because the temperature of the Arctic ocean that surrounds it is rising. Some scientists think this could be the result of normal climate variations that are bringing warmer ocean currents into the Arctic basin. But others say that global warming may well be a factor in the melting of the North Pole. To hear about our new CD, please visit pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.