Experts of UN say: as many as 250 million people the world over suffer from the shortage of fresh water. In 20 years from now this figure may soar 16 fold. A way out is in the immense pool of ice resources of the polar regions, the Antarctic first and foremost. Yuri Suprunenko, Cand. Sc. (Geogr), of the RAS Institute of Geography, elaborates on this subject in his contribution for the Russian-language journal Zemlya i Vselennaya (Earth and Universe, No. 1, 2007).
The Antarctic (Antarctica) - also know as the Sixth, or Ice Continent - is a depository of as much as 25 mln cubic kilometers of ice, that is the frozen water of atmospheric precipitation. But because of the persisting global warming that began in the 20th century, the planet's ice
shield is going to lose up to 1/5 of its mass in the coming 200 to 300 years. The process is already on, Dr. Suprunenko warns, though at this stage only in the form of icebergs, large masses of floating ice broken from glaciers or ice sheets of polar regions (true, bergs have been breaking loose all along, but not as often and abundantly as now. Dropping into the sea, floating fragments of Antarctic ice travel as far as the southern shores of Africa and America to dissolve without a trace in the warm salt water. Besides, icebergs endanger navigation (let us recall the end of the Titanic - though the tragedy occurred in the North Atlantic, it was caused by an iceberg's subwater part, with many such icebergs floating off the Antarctic coasts). If the global warming situation keeps up, the Antarctic ice will melt away, to get the level of the World Ocean up by 100 meters. In that case large coastal zones with great cities in many countries will be submerged. In a nutshell, the situation is bad enough, and it should be considered in good earnest. As Dr. Suprunenko sees it, to begin with one should try to control the icebergs of the Antarctic, which will help inhibit the breaking off and sporadic mov ... Read more