# Polar Ice caps are melting? Questions on enviromental impact

The polar ice caps are melting at a significant rate partly due to the albedo effect, releasing greenhouse gas-methane into earth’s atmosphere. At the same time we are logging our forests for agricultural expansion. Is year twenty -thirty an accurate prediction for polar ice extinction?

A.) Is there a model to show just how much our forests absorbs green house gases?

B.) Will an abundance of $CO_2$ & methane-gas over load the earths forests & oceans natural ability absorb such gases and start to kill them off.

C.) Does our ocean's plankton act as a mechanism to recycle the atmospheres $CO_2$ Green house gases.

BBC Artical $CO_2$

• I didn't hear about $CO_2$ release by melting ice caps before (methane from melting permafrost: yes; but not $CO_2$ from ice caps). Phytoplankton converts large amounts of $CO_2$, yes. – daniel.heydebreck Dec 1 '17 at 6:44
• it must be some misunderstanding here,ice do not have an elevated amount of CO2,but permafrost when it melts can give of CO2 and methane and in places there is permafrost in the sediments on the seafloor. – trond hansen Dec 1 '17 at 8:48
• The articles are very clear. The loss of surface sea ice in the Arctic contributes to warming by raising albedo, by an estimated equivalent of 20 years of CO2 at current rates of increase. The melting ice itself doesn't add CO2. As for losing forests, models that show how much trees can absorb and Our oceans Plankton "recycle" those are somewhat tricky in details, but not too hard to answer. – userLTK Dec 1 '17 at 8:56
• These are 3 separate questions and should be listed as such. – farrenthorpe Dec 1 '17 at 21:18
• this question have been changed after the comments was made and this can be confusing. – trond hansen Dec 3 '17 at 9:14

I think you misinterpret the article you cited. In the article it is stated that:

The melting of the polar ice-caps has an effect "the equivalent of about 20 years of additional CO$_2$ being added by man"

This is due to the energy in sunlight which is no longer reflected by the white ice and snow of the polar caps. This energy will be partly absorbed by the darker surface of the ocean or land which will be underneath the ice-caps. This absorption of energy (instead of reflection) has an effect which is equal to "the equivalent of about 20 years if additional CO$_2$ being added by mankind".

There probably are models that can tell how much CO$_2$ can be absorbed by trees. However, an ecosystem which is in balance (e.g. a full grown forest) doesn't absorb that much CO$_2$ anymore. This is because the growth of new trees is equal to the dying and decomposition of old trees (in balance). Only a little part might be stored in the soil.

An increase of CO$_2$ might increase the growth rate of trees due to in increase of effectiveness of photosynthesis. (Stomata will have to be open less longer to require the same amount of CO$_2$ and therefore trees will lose less water for example).

Our ocean does absorb CO$_2$ as well. Algea, phytoplankton, and chemical process all make this happen. What you mean with recycle -- as well I'm not sure.

While your question isn't ideal, in that it's 3 separate questions and there's not much indication that you've done any research, I'll answer anyway.

Is year twenty -thirty an accurate prediction for polar ice extinction?

Nobody knows if it's accurate. It's certainly a reasonable estimate based on current rates of decline and continued warming. Predicting something like that with accuracy, however, is impossible. But they can usually make pretty good estimates with careful study.

Also, I wouldn't call it an extinction of ice because the ice will return every winter, it's just an ice-free summer. Is it still bad? Yes. An ice-free Arctic in summer should be prevented if we can.

A.) Is there a model to show just how much our forests absorbs green house gases?

This is also a very difficult question. Forests absorb CO2 but they also release it when plants and animals die and/or get eaten.

NASA estimates up to 30% of our CO2 is currently absorbed by all the forests in the world, but the article describes the difficulty in reaching that estimate. Similar estimate from this article.

The problem, of-course, is we can't exactly double or triple the amounts of forests we have in the world. We don't have that much free space. Maintaining forests and planting trees can help with climate change but it's unlikely to ever be a fix.

Will an abundance of CO2 & methane-gas over load the earths forests & oceans natural ability absorb such gases and start to kill them off.

No. Methane is too scarce to have much effect and CO2 is, if anything, good for plants, not bad for them. Some studies suggest increased levels in CO2 increase plant growth. There are other related problems. Flooding, hurricanes, droughts, salt from storm surges can hurt, not help plant growth. While the CO2 increase can be a boost to plants, environmental changes can hurt. CO2 isn't a pollutant and it doesn't kill planets at high levels. Greenhouses, for example often store 3 or 4 times the normal CO2 concentration without any harm to the plants.

C.) Does our ocean's plankton act as a mechanism to recycle the atmospheres CO2 Green house gases.

Not as well as forests. Plankton does absorb a lot of carbon by photosynthesis but most gets returned back into the atmosphere.

Although a small but possibly significant percentage of the sinking organic material becomes buried in the ocean sediment, most of the dissolved carbon dioxide is eventually returned to the surface via ocean currents - but this can take centuries or millennia.

It's also unclear how much longer the oceans will continue to absorb carbon or if they will start to release it as they warm up.

It's better to ask one question at a time, not three or four, and also, do research before you ask.