The Power Of

Even though ice covers only about 10 percent of Earth's surface, it is a significant material with a great deal of influence over life on Earth. The majority of this ice is found at or near the poles, both on top of and within the upper layers of soil and rock. During the winter, many temperate-zone lakes and rivers freeze, thawing when air temperatures rise in the spring. Ice forms from liquid water, fractures, melts, and decays. The movement of glacial ice over the land scours the soil from the bedrock it sits on, creating basins for future lakes, valleys for rivers, moraines, and other landforms. In the frigid seas, icebergs break away from their parent ice shelves. Some threaten shipping, and all partially modify the structure of the oceans they reside in.

As air temperatures increase from the combination of natural climate change and global warming, there is evidence of accelerated melting in mountain glaciers, permafrost regions, areas covered by sea ice, and portions of the remaining continental ice sheets. Among the numerous effects of warming temperatures, many scientists predict that sea levels will rise to flood many coastal cities and low-lying regions. Sea-level rise has happened before; it is a phenomenon tied to Earth's continuous cycling between intervals of increased cold and increased warmth.

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