An alarm is being raised about global warming causing dramatic rises in the temperature of ocean waters. Scientists are studying warming waters all over the globe to determine the extent of this rise in temperatures.
The consequences of global warming are far-reaching. One of the most devastating effects of global warming is an impact on tropical storms. Hurricanes that would have been category 3 storms in years past are now category 4 or above because they are energized when they pick up warmer-than-normal ocean water. There has been a significant increase in these higher intensity storms over the last 35 years. In 2005, the Atlantic was bombarded with 27 tropical storms powerful enough to receive a name, and fifteen of them developed into hurricanes. Five of these storms were classified as category 4 hurricanes and four reached the level of category 5. Hurricane Katrina made a terrible mark on history in August of 2005. It became the costliest hurricane in American history and also one of most lethal.
Earth's ice is crucial in order to maintain the delicate balance in the environment. As global warming causes temperatures to rise in the oceans, glaciers and icecaps are melting more rapidly. One particular ice shelf in Antarctica, the northern section of the Larson B shelf, collapsed in recent years. Scientists suddenly realized how fast the ice shelf could disintegrate. The polar ice cap is dissolving at an astonishing rate as well--9% per decade. This recent phenomenon is a definite cause for alarm. In the last half century, the thickness of ice in the Arctic has decreased by 40%.
Perennial sea ice in the Arctic has been receding as well. In 2005 there was a record low in square miles of sea ice. Just two years later, in 2007, the record was broken again with half a million square miles less perennial ice than in 2005. Some scientists predict that all the sea ice will be gone by 2040.
Melting ice will also cause sea levels to rise. When this happens, islands are lost and coastal communities are flooded. Various suggestions have been made about the levels that the water could reach, anywhere from 10 to 23 inches by 2100.
Global warming has the potential to make the earth a very inhospitable place to live. Rising temperatures in ocean waters are a clear indication that the process has begun. With the melting of ice in the glaciers, icecaps, and on the sea, it is a matter of time before global warming has even more harmful effects. It is up to the people of the world to do what they can to stop or slow this alarming environmental problem.