Agriculture
Got Milk? How?
Springing forward
Silk’s superpowers
Amphibians
Toads
Bullfrogs
Frogs and Toads
Animals
Eyes on the Depths
Baboons Listen for Who's Tops
Dolphin Sponge Moms
Behavior
Dino-bite!
Lost Sight, Found Sound
Ear pain, weight gain
Birds
Waterfowl
Backyard Birds
Pelicans
Chemistry and Materials
Boosting Fuel Cells
The science of disappearing
The solar system's biggest junkyard
Computers
Galaxies on the go
The solar system's biggest junkyard
Nonstop Robot
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Feathered Fossils
Dinosaurs Grow Up
Did Dinosaurs Do Handstands?
E Learning Jamaica
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
Earth
Getting the dirt on carbon
Arctic Algae Show Climate Change
On the Trail of America's Next Top Scientists
Environment
Whale Watch
Animal CSI or from Science Lab to Crime Lab
A Change in Time
Finding the Past
Fakes in the museum
Ancient Art on the Rocks
Watching deep-space fireworks
Fish
Mahi-Mahi
Sting Ray
Pygmy Sharks
Food and Nutrition
Moving Good Fats from Fish to Mice
Yummy bugs
How Super Are Superfruits?
GSAT English Rules
Finding Subjects and Verbs
Whoever vs. Whomever
Pronouns
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
Tarrant High overcoming the odds
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
Access denied - Disabled boy aces GSAT
GSAT stars reap scholarship glory
GSAT Mathematics
It's a Math World for Animals
Math of the World
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Human Body
Heart Revival
Smiles Turn Away Colds
What the appendix is good for
Invertebrates
Invertebrates
Walking Sticks
Tapeworms
Mammals
Chinchillas
Minks
Hamsters
Parents
Expert report highlights the importance to parents of reading to children!
What Not to Say to Emerging Readers
The Surprising Meaning and Benefits of Nursery Rhymes
Physics
Hold on to your stars, ladies and gentlemen
Thinner Air, Less Splatter
Extra Strings for New Sounds
Plants
City Trees Beat Country Trees
White fuzzy mold not as friendly as it looks
Fastest Plant on Earth
Reptiles
Box Turtles
Iguanas
Garter Snakes
Space and Astronomy
Slip-sliding away
Planning for Mars
Saturn's New Moons
Technology and Engineering
Shape Shifting
A Light Delay
Model Plane Flies the Atlantic
The Parts of Speech
What is a Verb?
Countable and Uncountable Nouns
What is a Preposition?
Transportation
Troubles with Hubble
Are Propellers Fin-ished?
Robots on the Road, Again
Weather
Watering the Air
Where rivers run uphill
The Best Defense Is a Good Snow Fence
Add your Article

Earth's Poles in Peril

The North and South poles are remote and frigid places that receive lots of animal visitors but few human tourists. But even if you never plan to visit the polar bears in the north or penguins in the south, now is a perfect time to start thinking about them. That's because 2007 marks the beginning of the International Polar Year (IPY), a two-year-long bonanza of science projects that aim to illustrate how important the poles are to the health of our planet. During the IPY, which will last until March 2009, thousands of researchers from more than 60 countries will conduct more than 200 projects and expeditions to both the top and bottom of the worldIn recent years, the polar regions have begun to change drastically as a result of global warming. Temperatures there are rising faster than anywhere else on Earth. As a result, the ice and snow in these regions are melting at record-setting rates. One result is that sea levels are rising around the world, putting animals and people at risk. Only by studying the poles, say IPY researchers, can we find ways to protect them and ourselves. "The more we know about what is going to happen," says Stephen Rintoul, an oceanographer at Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), "the more convincing the argument is to look at what we can do." Melting ice in the far north Both the Arctic (in the far north) and the Antarctic (in the far south) are cold and remote, but the two regions have important differences, says biological oceanographer Louis Fortier of Laval University in Quebec, Canada. For one thing, the Arctic is an ice-covered ocean surrounded by land. The Antarctic, on the other hand, is a continent of ice-covered land surrounded by water. Most polar studies have focused on the Arctic, and that is where scientists have observed the most dramatic changes in the ice. During a typical year, Arctic ice expands in the winter and shrinks in the summer. But recently, the amount of ice covering the ocean has been steadily dropping in both seasons. In the winter of 2005–2006, the winter ice mass hit an all-time recorded low for the second year in a row. The ice cover that year dropped 300,000 square kilometers (116,000 square miles), or 2 percent, from the previous year to a new low of 14.5 million square kilometers (5.6 million square miles). The amount of ice lost equaled the size of Italy. In 2005, the summer low in the Arctic was 30 percent less than the low 20 years earlier. The rate of change As more ice melts as a result of rising global temperatures, the rate of melting will most likely speed up as well. That's because a sheet of ice acts like a huge mirror, reflecting sunlight back into space. But as the ice cover shrinks, the expanse of open ocean grows. Ocean water is darker than ice. Rather than reflecting the sun's energy, it absorbs a lot of it. This causes the ocean to warm, which in turn hastens ice melting, which leads to even more open waters. The cycle continues--until all the ice is gone. Most models, taking into account increasingly rapid melting, show an icefree Arctic summer happening as early as 2040, Fortier says, but some are more pessimistic. "Most specialists believe we've reached the tipping point, after which things will accelerate very quickly," he says. "Some models say the Arctic Ocean could be ice-free for a week or a month at the end of summer by as early as 2015." Satellite data shows that as much as 36 cubic miles of ice is melting in Antarctic each year, scientists announced last year. And NASA recently produced evidence that, in January 2005, unusually high temperatures led to the largest Antarctic snowmelt in three decades. Life in the deep south Disappearing ice could be devastating for wildlife in many ways. As the ice melts, water drains into the oceans, diluting them and making them less salty. That, along with warmer water temperatures, can harm the diverse creatures that live in, under, and near the ice, says zoologist Michael Stoddard, Chief Scientist with the Australian Antarctic Division. Cold-adapted animals—including polar bears, foxes, hares, and seals—also need ice for travel and survival. Most species of fish, worms, sea spiders, and other animals, plants, and other organisms that live in the waters of Antarctica don't live anywhere else, Stoddard says. Many of these creatures have special proteins in their bodies that keep them from freezing to death and have other adaptations to the cold that have yet to be explored. Scientists such as Stoddard have learned a good deal about Antarctica. But overall, research on animal diversity in the area has been scarce. To learn more, scientists on a fleet of research ships are using underwater robots, cameras, and other high-tech equipment to see what else lives in these far southern waters. A recent 10-week expedition turned up 15 potentially new shrimplike species, 4 potentially new corallike species, and lots of sea cucumbers, sea squirts, sponges, and more. Results of this IPY-timed census will help scientists track changes in these creatures. "We want to look at everything from the 6 thousand million tons of plankton down to the insignificant, paltry organisms like penguins," Stoddard jokes. Seriously, he adds, "we don't know a lot about the Antarctic. We're hoping the census will be able to fill up some of these holes." During the IPY, other groups are studying caribou, wolves, shrubs, and underwater mountains in the Arctic, microbes, krill, algae, and penguins in the Antarctic, and every other aspect of biology, geology, and ice-themed research you can imagine. Saving the ice As studies on the impact of climate change on the polar regions continue, experts are urging us to reconsider the way we live. The fossil fuels that we burn in cars, power plants, and factories are largely to blame for the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that are trapping excess heat in our atmosphere. If we can produce fewer of these gases, we can help save the polar ice. And saving the polar ice will help protect the oceans and us. Biking, walking, and taking public transportation, for example, are pole-friendly activities. Encourage your parents to switch to efficient, compact fluorescent light bulbs, and turn the lights off in rooms when you're not using them. Urging your politicians to fight for the environment can help too. "Small things would make a difference," Rintoul says, "if everyone did them."

Earth's Poles in Peril
Earth's Poles in Peril








Designed and Powered by HBJamaica.com™