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How is the Philippines affected by melting glaciers due to climate change?


Melting glaciers due to climate change sounds like a problem that does not affect the Philippines.

But the most recent Generation Restoration documentary explains the unlikely connection between our tropical country in Southeast Asia and melting glaciers in the North Pole.

"Icebreaker" was filmed in Svalbard, an archipelago in the north of Norway and North Pole.

Blanketed in snow and ice, Svalbard is found in the arctic circle, where sun doesn't come out for nearly four months. This year in fact, they won't experience sunrise until March 8.

It's so cold there that a seed vault has been established by the Norwegian government, where seeds from all over the world are kept and stored for preservation — like a giant underground freezer, if you will.

But Svalbard's climate — and the rest of the world — is threatened by climate change.

At COP 21 in Paris last 2015, nations agreed to keep global warming to 2C preferably to 1.5C.

But the last IPCC report published in 2021, said the world will hit 1.5C warming in as short as seven years, or in 2030.

According to Dr. Heidi Sevestre, a French glaciologist who has been studying glaciers in the Norwegian archipelago for the past decade, Svalbard "is the one place on Earth that is warming the fastest."

While the arctic region is warming some 2 to 3 times faster than the rest of the world, Sevestre says "Svalbard itself is warming 6 to 7 times faster than the global average."

With a rapidly warming world, the cryosphere — the surface of Earth with frozen water — is quickly melting. In place of white surfaces that normally reflect the radiation back to space are dark oceans and dark rocks that absorb heat, exacerbating the problem further.  

And melting glaciers mean sea level rise for countries like the Philippines.

"In places where the ocean is warmer, such as around the Philippines, it's making the ocean dilate even more, taking a little more room. So the more the ice is melting in the arctic, the more the Philippines will experience sea level rise. This is the direct relation between the two," she said.

Currently, the sea level rise is at 3 millimeters per year, Sevestre said, with the number quickly increasing.

Luckily, there is still a lot we can do. We can help in reforestation efforts, we can stop using plastics, we can even curb our greenhouse gas emissions by walking and cycling instead of using our cars. But while individual acts are of great help, it's important to remember that systemic change is most necessary. — LA, GMA Integrated News 

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