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| Earth on Oct 28, 2008

Ginny Catania describes likely consequences of polar melting

Polar research scientist Ginny Catania responds to a Brazilian student’s question, and explains why what happens at the poles can have global impacts.

A student from Brazil had a questions for scientists.

Olivia: My question is, what are the consequences of polar melting?

EarthSky asked Ginny Catania, a polar research scientist at the University of Texas.

Ginny Catania: It’s a really important question right now, because the Earth is warming due to man-made activities. And the polar caps are very susceptible to that, because if you put ice in a hot environment, it will melt.

She said polar ice caps could dump as much as 60 meters of cold water into the ocean.

Ginny Catania: Even in Rio, in Brazil, you’ll have a big impact if you have that much sea level rise. You’ll have waterfront incurring inland quite a bit, and it can have a large impact on many cities around the world.

Catania said it’s tricky to predict how warming, rising oceans will affect the very complex system that is our Earth.

Ginny Catania: A lot of unknowns still exist. But we do think there will be impacts to weather patterns, sea level rise, loss of habitat, and warming in the Arctic.

Consequences will be felt all over the world.

Ginny Catania: We’re all so intimately linked, and it kind of doesn’t even matter where you’re from anymore.

Our thanks to the Monsanto Fund, bridging the gap between people and their resources.

Our thanks to:
Ginny Catania
Research Scientist, Polar Studies
University of Texas
Austin, Texas