The melting Arctic ice cap accelerates global warming

The melting Arctic ice cap accelerates global warming

When recently reading articles about the speed of the melting Arctic Ice Cap, I remembered my chemistry professor who, back in 1983, was already speaking about the risk we face of the ice caps disappearing, due to the fact that the planet is exiting an ice age. He explained that this phenomena would lead to a northward shift in the Gulf Stream, that the Gulf Stream would therefore lead to ice caps melting and so to rising oceans. Back in those days, the predictions were that this would happen in several centuries time, or even in several millennia. I believed then that future civilisations would find solutions to overcome this challenge and I was not worried about the ice caps.


Every year the earth’s sets new temperature records (see NASA and NOAA). This confirms that the planet is actually warming – ‘global warming’, which is caused by the enormous injections of greenhouse gases into the earth’s atmosphere, principally due to man’s actions and activities (i.e. anthropological causes) since the end of the 18th century, notably due to the burning of fossil fuels such as oil or coal. Further, this global warming is actually accelerated by the disappearing ice caps, as explained below. 


Ice naturally dampens or slows rising temperatures. The formation of ice and its conservation through winter therefore limit global warming, and, should the ice disappear, this dampening effect would be lost.

In order to demonstrate this, we undertook the following experiment (that can be repeated at your home):

Ice naturally dampens or slows rising temperatures. The formation of ice and its conservation through winter therefore limit global warming, and, should the ice disappear, this dampening effect would be lost.


Method: a container is filled with water and ice and is heated slowly. The temperature of the water is constantly measured.
Results: The temperature rise occurs in three stages (see Figure 6 – H2life FSUP) *Gerald H. Haug, et al., Nature, vol. 433,‎ 2005, p. 821-825 +
Stage 1 – The input energy (as heat) is used to convert ice into water. As the total surface area of the ice remains constant, the amount of energy absorbed by the melting ice also remains constant. Hence the temperature of the water surrounding the ice remains constant.
Stage 2 – As the ice melts, the surface area of the ice shrinks. Hence, less energy is needed to convert ice into water, and some energy is therefore used to raise the temperature of the water. Hence the temperature of the water rises, but slowly.
Stage 3 – All the ice has disappeared - melted. Now, all the input energy goes to raising the temperature of the water. Hence, the temperature rises quickly.
Conclusion: Ice constitutes a dampener which moderates the rise in temperature.
When energy is input into the system as heat, the energy first goes into driving the transition from ice to water before raising the temperature of the water.
Our earth has several permanent sources inputting energy: solar, geothermal and anthropogenic (from man’s activities). When ice is present on earth, this energy input goes first to melting the ice, before raising the earth’s temperature. However, once the earth’s ice is gone, all the energy input will go to raising the earth’s temperature – the rate of temperature rise will grow.


Solution: the hydrogen economy

We are currently in the ‘fossil fuel’ age, and it causing devastating global warming. Getting out of this fossil fuel age would actually be the preferred economic choice if our society respected the rules of market economics. That is, if the true costs of fossil fuel use (ecological damage) were included in the costs of fossil fuel, the alternative solutions and technologies would be economically competitive, possibly less expensive. The technical (e.g. hydrogen economy) and political (anti-dumping laws, competition laws) measures required to achieve this already exist.

If the full costs of sea level rise, of increased damage from storms and of millions of climate refugees (note, on average there have been 21.5 million such refugees each year since 2008 – as estimated by UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency)) were included in the costs of fossil fuels, these costs would not be bearable.

Just like we didn’t wait for the depletion of stones to get out of the stone age, don’t expect the exhaustion of fossil fuels resources to get us out of the ‘fossil fuel age’.

When used, hydrogen (H2) only emits water vapour, and when Hydrogen is produced by hydrolysis to break up the water (H20) molecule, the cycle from water to water is complete. This process imitates nature: it is cyclical, renewable and non-polluting.

For more information on the melting ice caps:

hydrogen economie

Sources: Gerald H. Haug, et al., Nature, vol. 433,‎ 2005, p. 821-825 +

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