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Polar Ice Caps - Here Today, Gone Tomorrow?

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It's getting hot in here! Climate change[/kwlink 4858] is proving problematic for a lot of different environments but the changes it's causing at the polar ice caps may affect us all. June 5, 2007 is World Environment Day and this year's theme is Melting Ice - Hot Topic? We take a closer look at what's going on at the [kwlink 4470]ends of the earth and what we can do to stop it .

Polar Ice Caps - What Are They?

Polar ice caps are huge sheets of ice that lie at a planet or moon's poles. Earth has ice caps at both the North and South Pole. The caps don't melt and re-freeze seasonally so they can be 10-13 feet (three to four meters) thick at the North Pole and even thicker at the South Pole (Antarctica). Polar ice caps get less exposure to the sun than the rest of the earth, which results in lower surface temperatures.

Polar Ice Caps - Size Matters

Polar ice caps can grow and shrink due to climate variation. During ice ages, the polar caps expanded to cover much more than the area they cover now. Currently, the polar ice caps are shrinking, most likely as a result of global warming. So what does this mean? Fewer penguins? A smaller backyard for Santa? Unfortunately the impact is much bigger than that. The sea level has risen six to eight inches (15 to 20 cm) in the last 100 years, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Some studies suggest that sea levels could rise as much as 20 feet by end of the century. Higher sea levels mean less available land due to increased flooding. Melted polar ice also changes the temperature of the oceans, which may lead to the destruction of marine plant and animal life.

Polar Ice Caps - What Can You Do?

Climate change is widely believed to be the cause of shrinking polar caps, so here are a few ways you can do your part to tackle global warming.

  • Turn off the lights when you leave a room and don't leave the TV on when you're not using it. Switch to energy efficient light bulbs.
  • Walk to school instead of getting the 'rents to drive you and take the bus when you go to the mall or your friend's house.
  • Tell your parents what you know about global warming and the environment. It's important that they know as much as you do so they can vote for politicians who care about the environment.
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