A geopolitical scramble has begun in the unfamiliar icy territories by the poles. Last month Denmark laid formal claim to the Arctic, but who or what can act to save the Arctic’s and Antartica’s ecosystem services of critical cooling?
Sea ice has a much higher albedo compared to other earth surfaces, such as the surrounding ocean, or tundra that lies below, what are now frozen, landscapes.As more polar ice melts there is less reflection of sunlight back into space and the local temperature warms. Ice melts to form a larger mass of darker blue water, which absorbs, rather than bounces back, more light, leading to a warmer temperature. This Albedo effect phenomenon is why it is so important to preserve the Arctic and its cooling effect for the whole planet.
Beyond the science and the Arctic ice’s stabilisation function is the sheer beauty of natural geometric forms in polar latitudes. These stunning photographs could be a welcome call to preserve the poles’ ecosystems rather than another geography scolding. Instead, marvel at these trapped ice bubbles, frost flowers, formations like natural neon lights, ice as bright as emeralds, and jagged zig-zagged lakes.
Shell and Gazprom are pursuing an Arctic oil rush. Drilling one of the planet’s most extreme, isolated, unknown, unpredictable environments is risky in the short run with potential devastation in oil spills, but cumulative drilling over months and years is even more risky in the long term with catastrophic impacts for the stability of the entire Earth. Perhaps images of icy splendor could make inroads to halting the destruction in the poles.
Oil spills in albedo territories would have calamitous and maybe irreversible impacts on the entire Arctic ecosystem. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. In the last 30 years 75% percent of its sea ice has evaporated. So, maybe the alarm balls could be run out with delightful images of landscapes worth saving for their own sake.
Freezing water creates an astonishing variety of patterns: from jagged lines or frozen bubbles to perfect snowflakes with every imaginable shade of blue, green and white. How surreal is the fact that you can walk over this beauty!