UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
Home
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Webcasts
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information
How will the melting of the glaciers on Greenland and Antarctica affect global circulation?
Answer 1:

Glaciers affect global circulation by cooling the air around them. Two major physical systems cause our weather:

1-- Our planet spins as we orbit the sun which causes the air masses to move and
2-- Warmer air masses rise while cooler air masses sink.

Air at the equator is usually much warmer because it is being heated by the direct sun rays. Air at our poles is much cooler. The temperature of the air masses changes how they move and mix.

Glaciers are very cold so they cool the air that flows over them. Sometimes very large glaciers even have their own regulated miniature weather systems!

Without the glaciers cooling the air around them, the air currents in that area would change.

Answer 2:

Good question. Antarctica probably won't affect that much because Antarctica is likely to remain cold enough that only a few of its glaciers will melt. Greenland is much more of a wild-card and we really don't know what the end effects of that will be.



Click Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2015 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use