The Greenland Ice: A Story of Changing Climate

The Greenland Ice: A Story of Changing Climate

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8401-8.ch005
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Human society has done great damage to the oceans of Earth. It will take the dedicated efforts of a great many people working on a great many ideas to take on these great problems of the 21st century. Some of those people will be young people. In this chapter's story, “The Cabin Boy's Tale,” a young person serves as an intern on a vessel involved in monitoring a mineralization of the seas program. In a few months, the young person learns more than he bargained for.
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Topics For Discussion

The following discussion points come from information covered in this chapter:

  • 1.

    As the melting of Greenland’s ice sheet continues, how will different societies around the world be effected?

  • 2.

    What kinds of efforts might be tried to address the problems of the oceans? Of the melting ice caps?

  • 3.

    What efforts will be needed to monitor and fine-tune whatever efforts human societies make?

  • 4.

    Is there a story in place of young people in these efforts? Could that story be the reader’s story?



The Oceans cover 70% of the Earth’s surface, and hold 97% of Earth’s water. And the glaciers currently cover around 16 million square kilometers of the surface of our planet and almost all are represented by the Antarctic ice sheet and Greenland. They are formed in places where it is very cold, more precisely where more snow falls in winter than melts in summer.

The sea ice is formed when sea water freezes excluding most of the salt at very low temperatures and to this is added also the snow. The sea ice that forms in Antarctica is seasonally melts back to land’s edge each spring, while the core of the Arctic ice can last for several years.

Figure 1.

S.S. Jeannette Expedition (1879-1881) in North Pole before encountering almost any ice, (Source:

Figure 2.

Janette trip. (Source:


In a glacier there are two zones:

  • 1.

    The accumulation area, where the accumulation of ice occurs. In this area, the snow falling during the winter remains stored even in the hot season. In the high mountain glaciers, the accumulation zone is located at high altitude.

  • 2.

    The area of ablation, where the loss of ice occurs. In this zone the melting of the fallen snow and ice occurs as well as detachment of parts of ice. Alpine glaciers have an area of just 3,000 square kilometers and make up just 0.018% of the Earth’s surface; 46% are in Switzerland, 20% in Italy, 18% in Austria, 14% in France, and 0.03% in Germany.

The largest glacier in the Alpine chain is located in the Bernese Alps, which has an area of 86 square kilometers and a length of 24 kilometers. About 50% of the glacial surface has disappeared in the Alps in 150 years.

Society can measure the melting of the Greenland ice sheet and monitor the polar ice caps. Society can measure the rise of global sea level to an accuracy of millimeters per year. Both of these are increasing at an accelerating rate.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Artificial Intelligence (AI): The intelligence shown by machines or computer software. An AI in some ways can mimic human intelligence but does not have to match it feature for feature. The interface avatars of these AIs are important characters in these stories.

Big Moon Dig (BMD): A fictional grassroots space movement with the purpose of building a settlement on the Moon. It is a MOVE organization. Historically Apollo to the Moon provided an enormous number of people with a vivid, positive vision of the future. Such a vision would be a major asset in addressing the great problems of the 21 st century if it can be reestablished. The Big Moon Dig’s top-level purpose then is to rebuild that vision.

Iron Seas: A fictional organization that is testing the seeding the oceans with iron to sequester carbon.

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