GlaciersNatural Resources

Why Are Glaciers and Ice Caps Melting?

How Fast Are Glaciers Melting?

Why are glaciers melting? What are the primary causes behind the melting of both glaciers and ice caps? How fast are glaciers melting? Lots of queries, right? Let’s clear all of these right away!


Glaciers and ice caps are two such points we always cover while discussing the earth’s total water content and only 10% of our planet is covered with glaciers and ice caps, which can be further categorized into 90% for Antarctica and 10% in Greenland.

However, have you ever asked why glaciers are there or why they are vital for us? Well, glaciers and ice caps help our planet to get rid of extreme heat from the Sun. That’s the reason why poles are colder than that of the equators.

These white form of water protect our earth by reflecting sun rays to space. Glaciers, as well as polar ice caps, are essential, and according to WWF(World Wildlife Fund), by 2100 one third of all glaciers will get evaporated. That’s a huge problem indeed, isn’t it?

If you are thinking, why it is a matter of concern, let me grasp you that ice formation takes millions of years; however, the melting is just a few years. These collected masses of snow or ice are also responsible for natural weather conditions and changes in their standard form will cause severe issues throughout the earth.

Lets dive into details:

Why Are Glaciers and Ice Caps Melting?

One of the most apparent causes behind the melting of glaciers and ice caps is human activities. There might be some natural effects as well. However, such melting of glaciers and ice caps in the poles are influencing the currents in oceans, and global sea-level rise occurs.

There are lots of other effects of such drastic changes on a natural phenomenon, which we will discuss below. Here in this section, we are going to talk about the causes or reasons why glaciers are melting. Let’s have a closer view.

Greenhouse Gas Emission

There are several reasons for greenhouse gas emissions. However, such types of Human-made causes result in the melting of our protecting shield, i.e., glaciers.

The primary greenhouse gas includes CO2, SO2, CO, CFC, Oxides of nitrogen, and CH4. Burning of biomass and any other kind of organic waste causes the emission of CO2 – the primary GHG.

Besides, the usage of cooling instruments such as refrigerators and air conditioners also take part in the increased greenhouse gas emission.

Increased population requires an advanced transportation system, and therefore, a large number of combustion engines cause accelerated carbon monoxide and other similar gases.

These gases are responsible for the most concerning issues like global warming and climate change and as these negative effects of global warming and changes in our typical climate causes melting of glaciers and ice caps from the arctic as well as antarctic regions.

According to a report by, polar regions with very high latitudes are subjected to more warming (3° to 5°), which causes severe conditions like melting of sea ice, permafrost, and glaciers.


The Amazon rainforest is our primary source for logging activities and fulfilling the wood requirements. However, excess of such activities, i.e., deforestation, causes severe environmental problems starting from global warming and climate change.

The most recent and most prominent examples are the Brazilian amazon forest fire and Australian bush fire. From estimations, it comes to know that Australian bush fire extends 46% extra than a fire in Amazon’s Rainforest.

The “lungs of the world” — which contributes to 20% of overall oxygen concentration — is going to destroy due to the greed of human beings.

Yes, forest fires in the Amazon are a result of deforestation; As it adds a large quantity of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere causing global warming.

Ultimately, global warming affects the polar regions and mountain glaciers to end up melting with the sea level rise.

Warming of Oceans

An increase in ocean temperature may seem like the effects of glaciers melting; however, it’s the biggest why? Like all other natural cycles covering the causes and effects itself, the warming of oceans is a result of the melting of ice from all forms and also is a cause of the melting of sea ice.

Around 15% of oceans are covered with ice, and that helps our earth against heating effects.

However, anthropogenic activities increase the overall temperature of the earth, and thus, the amount of ice melted in summer becomes more than the amount collected in the winter.

As a result, sea ice started melting, and through that space, sun rays passed the ocean, increasing its thermal energy. That ultimately released into our atmosphere and further takes part in climate change.

That’s the reason why polar reasons for having a large mass of ice caps and glaciers are more affected by global warming.

Mining and Drilling Activities

The final cause behind the melting of ice from glaciers, permafrost, ice sheets, and other sources is mining and drilling activities.

The apparent reason for taking this into consideration is that, these produce a large quantity of black carbon and dust particles. These molecules are incredibly harmful to our natural refrigerator and cause accelerated melting of them.

According to a study, mining and drilling activities near cryospheres deposits enormous quantities of fine dust particles. These dust particles accelerate the ice ablation, enhancing the albedo of snow and ice.

From this evidence, it is clear that human activities like mining and drilling have roles in absorbing heat from the Sun, and melting of glaciers and polar ice caps occur.

How Fast Are Glaciers Melting?

Before wrapping up, we must grasp the idea of how fast our glaciers are melting.

From a survey by 89 polar scientists from 50 organizations, it came to know that glaciers and other forms of ice from Greenland and Antarctica are melting six times faster than in the 1990s.

It was observed that about 475 billion tons of ice per year (in 2010) are lost, which is six times more advanced from 81 billion tons annually in 1990; This causes a rise in sea level by 0.7 inches worldwide.

Conclusion Glaciers and Ice Caps Melting

Melting snow or ice from glaciers and ice caps is becoming a red flag signal for our world. And according to the above instances, the polar hemispheres surrounding ice are the most sensitive part, which suffers a lot due to the global climate.

There are lots of effects of the melting of these snow masses, including the loss of our most immense freshwater resources, more global warming and events related to it, and, most importantly, loss of our polar ecosystem.

Furthermore, a recent report shows that within five decades, about 80% of mountain glaciers in Alberta, B.C., and Yukon will melt. Here is an article presenting an interview with Dr David Hik — the researcher of this study.

Thus, it’s mandatory to take measures before all ice sceneries vanish and the beginning of the end of the earth.

This is all about why glaciers and ice caps are melting. We hope you have cleared all of your queries. For more such useful information, follow us and comment down how we can take part in saving our natural refrigerator.


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