This essay was written by upper-sixth former Cameron Philp, and a finalist for the 2020 Independent Learning Assignment. The following provides a short abstract to the full essay, which can be found at the bottom.
Estimated read time of abstract: 1 minute
Estimated read time of essay: 45 minutes
Unlike the Antarctic and many other parts of the world, the Arctic is a region of unclear territories, rapid change and emerging economic and strategic importance. The Arctic Circle is the northernmost line of latitude on the globe and consists of a deep ocean covered by a drifting expanse of frozen seawater. This ice cap is the major feature of the area and it expands in winter as the sea freezes and reduces in size in the summer as the ice melts. Iceland, Denmark (through Greenland), Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Canada and the United States are the eight ‘Arctic States’ that are located within the Arctic Circle. Approximately 4 million people live and work in the Arctic.
The extent of the Arctic ice cap has been decreasing significantly in the past few decades due to increasing average global temperatures. This rise in average temperature of the Earth’s climate is known as global warming and the Arctic is warming at a rate of almost twice the global average. Global warming is caused by many factors including the release of heat-trapping gases, such as carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels in power stations, that leads to a greater ‘greenhouse effect’. The ‘greenhouse effect’ is the warming that happens when certain gases in the atmosphere let light in and out but trap heat. Since the Industrial Revolution, the actions of humankind have had an increasingly damaging impact on the planet’s natural environment through an enhanced greenhouse effect. This has led the Arctic ice sheet to melt significantly and continues to at a terrifying rate due to increasing average temperatures. The last three winters in the Arctic have been 6ºC warmer than the average for the region and between 1982 and 2012, Arctic sea ice coverage decreased by over 40% from 8.3 to 4.7 million square kilometres. At the current receding rate, an ice-free Arctic is very likely in the next century and ice-free summers within the next few decades. This has many negative consequences. However, the decreasing ice coverage has meant resources previously inaccessible or too expensive to access are becoming available and commercially viable for exploitation.
To view Cameron’s full article, follow this link below.