Glaciers in the Arctic are Melting, and It’s Going to Affect You

22 Nov

Photographer and Journalist Randall Hyman warns warming temperatures and melting glaciers  in the arctic could directly affect life in St. Louis and around the globe

By: Brady Stiff

In 2012 the midwest, Webster Groves included, experienced unprecedented drought, and then one year later had record flooding. These severe weather events can be tied directly back to the rising temperatures and melting glaciers in the Arctic. 

“The climate change and ecosystem shifts in the arctic are a canary in the coal mine for the rest of the globe. Temperatures in the arctic are rising at twice the rate,” says Randall Hymam. 

Hyman is a professional journalist and arctic photographer. He is also a professor of climate change at Webster University.

Webster University’s Is Taking an Active Role in Water Conservation

Webster University’s East Academic Building is designed to protect local water sources from pollution, and the building’s climate conscious design goes even beyond water conservation.

The Threat To Water In Webster Groves

Water resources local to Webster Groves are being affected by increasingly extreme weather as well. 

“In a dry period of time, [a] creek will have almost no water in it.” Webster University professor of sustainability studies David Wilson says.

Webster University Sustainability Studies Professor David Wilson

“In fact, many urban creeks that used to flow year round now are what they call intermittent, they only flow after rain. And then, after, they’re almost dry.” 

Such extreme changes in weather result directly from rising temperatures in the arctic, according to the United States Geological Survey. 

Protecting a Limited Resource

According to the USGS, 68.7% of all freshwater on the planet is locked away in glaciers, 10% of which is in the glaciers of Greenland. 

Hyman advocates for the protection and restoration of these glaciers by documenting and reporting on their rapid disappearance. 

He compares the effects of rising temperatures in the arctic to the effects it has in mid-latitudes using a “Connect-The-Dots” analogy,

Connecting The Dots

“As you connect down to Iceland, which is subarctic, they’re losing their glaciers. In southern Greenland they are losing their glaciers,” Hyman says. “Hudson bay used to freeze over this time of year, it’s not frozen over it hasn’t for years. What does that mean? It means all the ecosystems are thrown off kilter.”

Advocate for Action, Randall Hyman

Polar bears require glaciers and ice platforms to navigate their home and hunt seals for food, and vis-à-vis, seals use these glaciers as their homes and as breeding ground for the survival of their kind. Without the ice, both species are at risk. But the ripple effect of melting ice doesn’t stop there. 

“In Southern Greenland they are losing their glaciers” – Randall Hyman

“Hudson bay doesn’t sound so far away. That’s Canada, that’s Ottawa, that’s Toronto. How far is Toronto from New York City? What’s been happening on the coasts of the US for years? We’re getting much more severe hurricanes. They go much further north to New York and into maritime provinces of Canada. That’s what I mean by connecting the dots.” Hyman says. 

A Changing Global Climate Affects Our Local Weather

Without the steady and consistent rainfall our planet has been used to, rising temperatures have altered weather as well as climate. Yes, there is still heavy rain, as well as heat and cold alike, but the extremity of heavy rainfall and periods of drought, and the extremity of hot summers and cold winters, is the concerning effect of climate change. 

 Weather and climate are related, but climate is the long term impact on our weather. You dress for the weather, and you build your cities and buildings for the climate. That’s the big difference.”

“You dress for the weather, and you build your cities and buildings for the climate.” – Randall Hyman

Melting glaciers already affect you on a daily basis, and without the journalistic work of Hyman and others researching the rising temperatures in the arctic, the heating planet could spell disaster for people all over the globe, not just in the north. 

Thankfully, we have Hyman, and thankfully, we have steps we can take to keep our planet healthy, so long as we take the steps to do it.

One Response to “Glaciers in the Arctic are Melting, and It’s Going to Affect You”

  1. bradystiff November 22, 2021 at 10:44 pm #

    Water, as a resource, is in danger. As urbanization and construction increases, what little water we have becomes more and more polluted. But, Webster University is part of the fight to solve the problem.

    And it starts with the East Academic Building.

    “The idea of a rain garden is that it can both capture the stormwater, slow it down, and help it soak back into the soil.” In the natural world, the ground absorbs all this water already. The rain garden attempts to simulate nature.

    In urban areas, pavement and concrete buildings prevent the natural soil from trapping stormwater and runoff, and all that excess water is dumped all at once into rivers.

    “You get rainfall, a huge rush of water to the creek which causes a rapid rise in water in the creek and then that rapid rise also rapidly decreases after the rainfall is over.”

    The flooding of these creeks presents dangers to both the ecosystems and species in these creeks not used to such extreme variations in water levels.

    But the Rain Garden cannot soak in all the water in a rainstorm at once. When the garden overflows, excess water flows to the Storm Collection Pond behind the parking garage.

    Overflow water is drained here and then allowed to soak into the ground naturally, without diverting water through pipes and flooding areas further away.

    All this contributes to the EAB’s LEED certification, an award given to buildings taking measures to eradicate their environmental impact.

    “Its a very difficult thing to achieve… It’s far more than just solar panels, it’s the kind of glass that’s used. Low E glass, it’s a matter of how much solar heat is let in and how it traps it or doesn’t, making it capable of passive cooling or heating.”

    The windows also provide ample access to daylight to reduce lighting cost and energy use.

    For Webster as a whole, there’s still a long way to go to keep shrinking the environmental footprint, but the EAB is a leap in the right direction. I’m Brady Stiff, For the Webster Journal.

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