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Continental Ice Sheets Maintain Climate
A continental ice sheet is a vast expanse of ice which completely covers all underlying terrain. They form on land and spread outward in all directions.
These ice sheets, such as cover Greenland (NASA photo above) and Antarctica, are the most significant of all the glacial forms because their huge size plays a major role in forming and maintaining the Earth's climate.
If the Arctic ice cap (of which the Greenland ice sheet is a major part) was to melt and disintegrate, the consequences would be catastrophic. Think of the ice as a giant white reflector - with no ice to reflect sunlight and heat in the summer, the entire radiation balance of the Earth would change.
This would lead to changes in heating patterns... which would change ocean currents in the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans... which would then alter the ocean circulation systems that transfer heat and minerals around the planet.
The end result would be dramatic global climate change and unpredictable disruptions to the oceans food chain.
Here's a thought... maybe we shouldn't let this happen.
Click pictures for more information and credits.
Library: Ice, Environment, Arctic
Links: Environment, Glaciers, Arctic
Arctic Maps & Weather Reports
DICTIONARY: Just "double-click" any unlinked word on this page for the definition from Merriam-Webster's Student Electronic Dictionary at Word Central.
ARCTIC LIBRARY & GLOSSARY: Check this section for an index of the rest of the things you really need to know about the Arctic.
ARCTIC MAPS & WEATHER REPORTS: Maps of the Northwest Passage, explorers' routes, iceberg sources, Nunavut, the Arctic by treeline, temperature...
ARCTIC LINKS: Even more information! Links to sites related to the Arctic and "Iceberg: the Story of the Throps and the Squallhoots".
GUIDE TO ARCTIC SUNRISE & SUNSET: How much sunlight or darkness is there in the Arctic on each day of the year?