Our challenge is to design a game to educate general public on polar environments and how they’re changing. We decided to take on this challenge because we figured ‘global warming’ is like a slang to most people, we only know about its superficial representation, but few of us know the fact that the Cryosphere is the region where climate change is the most severe, and it even provides positive feedback to global warming.
Hence we made up a game called 'To the Cryosphere' with Unity and C#, which educates players with knowledge about Cryosphere and discussions about its relations to climate change by survival game. We hope we can let the general public knows about the fatal change Cryosphere can cause in a easy and fun way, and take deeper interests in this issue.
Executable File: To the Cryosphere
resources of information below:
NASA Earth Data / National Snow & Ice Data Center https://nsidc.org/
- Sea ice is simply frozen ocean water. It forms, grows, and melts in the ocean, thus develops into various forms and shapes because of the constant turbulence of ocean water. It’s usually covered with snow and frost flowers.
- In Antarctic, flooded sea ice is more common to see because there is typically thinner ice and more snowfall in Antarctica. If snow cover is thick, especially over relatively thin sea ice, the weight of the snow can push the ice down into the water below. The salty ocean water floods the snow and creates a salty, slushy layer.
- In the Arctic, during summer, as the snow on top of sea ice melts, the meltwater can accumulate in depressions on the sea ice surface called melt ponds. These ponds absorb more heat than the surrounding sea ice from sunlight, and they grow in area and depth.
- Sea ice reflects the sunlight back into space. But because of global warming, fewer bright surfaces are available to reflect sunlight back into space, which made the temperatures rise further. This chain of events starts a cycle of warming and melting.
- When sea ice forms, most of the salt is pushed into the ocean water below the ice. Water below sea ice has a higher concentration of salt and is denser than surrounding ocean water, and so it sinks. Cold, dense, polar water sinks and moves along the ocean bottom toward the equator, while warm water from mid-depth to the surface travels from the equator toward the poles. Changes in the amount of sea ice can disrupt normal ocean circulation, thereby leading to changes in global climate.
- During winter, the Arctic's atmosphere is very cold. In comparison, the ocean is much warmer. The sea ice cover separates the two, preventing heat in the ocean from warming the overlying atmosphere. This insulating effect is another way that sea ice helps to keep the Arctic cold. With more leads and polynyas, or thinner ice, the sea ice cannot efficiently insulate the ocean from the atmosphere. The Arctic atmosphere then warms, which, in turn influences the global circulation of the atmosphere.
- Thermohaline circulation can be disrupted if the ocean surface receives a layer of fresh water due to melted sea ice. In Arctic, when the ice moves south through the Fram Strait into the North Atlantic, it melts, creating a layer of fresh water over the ocean surface that tends to stay at the top of the ocean. This lower density discourages the normal process of sinking at high latitudes (poles) that supports thermohaline circulation, which makes it harder to move the warm water north from the equator.
- As ice ages, the brine eventually drains through the ice, and by the time it becomes multiyear ice, nearly all of the brine is gone. Most multiyear ice is fresh enough that someone could drink its melted water. In fact, multiyear ice often supplies the fresh water needed for polar expeditions.
- Most are found in regions of high snowfall in winter and cool temperatures in summer. These conditions ensure that the snow that accumulates in the winter is not lost during the summer.
- Glaciers are made up of fallen snow that, over many years, compresses into large, thickened ice masses. Glaciers form when snow remains in one location long enough to transform into ice. Due to sheer mass, glaciers flow like very slow rivers, carving away the land beneath. Yet glaciers may surge, racing forward several meters per day for weeks or even months.
- Makes ice sheets are enormous continental masses of glacial ice and snow expanding over 50,000 square kilometers.
- Ice shelves occur when ice sheets extend over the sea and float on the water.
- Ice streams are large ribbon-like glaciers set within an ice sheet—they are bordered by ice that is flowing more slowly, rather than by rock outcrop or mountain ranges.
- To see a long-term climate record, Glaciers preserve bits of atmosphere from thousands of years ago in these tiny air bubbles, or, deeper within the core, trapped within the ice itself.
- Glaciers around the world have been retreating at unprecedented rates. Communities that live along rivers fed by melting glaciers face the constant threat of being dislodged from their dwelling place due to possible flooding. Many rivers are overflowing today, but very soon there will be no glacial melt to feed them, causing them to dry up and cause drought-like conditions. Lakes formed by melting ice will increase in size. If the current trend continues, there will soon come a time when these glaciers will not exist, causing hydropower stations to shut down. Other sources for producing electricity will need to be put into place, causing pollution and helping the cause of global warming. All farmland that depends on melting glacial water will dry up, leading to a shortage of food grains. Water levels will rise further when more fresh water is added to it. Entire communities living in low-lying areas near the sea shores will be at threat. Fresh underground water in these areas will get polluted with salty sea water making it unfit for drinking or irrigation.
- Glacial lake outburst floods happen when a glacier flows across a stream or river, creating a dam that can trap a large amount of water, extreme melting or unusually fast melting can cause these lakes to overflow their barriers and cause flooding downstream.
- Avalanches from glaciers.
- Icebergs that have broken off, or calved, from ice shelves and tidewater glaciers pose a significant threat to sea lanes worldwide, famous example: Titanic. Since large iceberg may threaten shipping routes, they are carefully tracked by satellite and aerial surveys.
- occurs when the ground contains water, and the temperature of the ground goes down below 0° C.
- can be either seasonally frozen ground or permafrost. Seasonally frozen ground freezes in the winter and thaws in the summer. Permafrost is a type of frozen ground that stays at or below 0° Celsius (32° Fahrenheit) for at least two years. Permafrost does not have to contain water or ice.
- Permafrost may contain material from plants or animals that used to live in the area.
- When the ground freezes or thaws, it can change the shape of the land, for example, pingos. Pingos form when liquid water underneath the ground is under pressure, then the water slowly feeds ice layers that push up the ground from underneath.
- When water turns into ice underground, it expands. This can make the ground move, causing frost heave that lifts up the ground, as well as everything on top of it.
- When soil freezes during winter, or changes from liquid to solid ice, it releases heat to the atmosphere. Soil can also store up heat from the Sun. Thus frozen soil releases more of this heat than soil that is not frozen, because frozen soils conduct heat better.
- Frozen soils also help to hold moisture. A thin layer of frozen soil stops moisture in the layers below from evaporating. So frozen ground helps regulate this water cycle.
- Permafrost areas tend to have many wetlands. Water on the surface, from melting snow, summer rains, and melting ground ice, cannot get through permafrost.The top layer of soil may thaw and let water through. But underneath it, the permafrost acts like a waterproof barrier. So ponds, lakes, and marshes are common in the summer. Without permafrost, water would soak in or run off the land, and the region would become very dry.
- Frozen ground also affects the way that carbon cycles through an ecosystem. Soil normally releases carbon into the atmosphere. If frozen soils are cold enough, they will stop releasing carbon. So more carbon stays trapped in frozen ground.
- Scientists have found that there is now ten percent less frozen ground in the Northern Hemisphere than in the early 20th century. The ground is not freezing as deeply as it used to in winter, and the ground is not staying frozen as long. If all the permafrost in the world thawed, it could release enough water to raise global sea levels by 3 to 10 centimeters.
- thawing permafrost on mountain slopes can lead to landslides.
- in areas near coasts, permafrost and sea ice work together to protect the shore from ocean waves. When sea ice melts away and permafrost thaws, waves hitting the shore can damage the land and lead to erosion. Sometimes, the land collapses into the ocean.